Patients’ Costs Rise as Specialists’ Income Soars

In an above-the-fold Sunday NY Times article, the growing trend of rising healthcare costs is revealed unbeknownst to patients. According to the NY Times, “Doctors’ charges — and the incentives they reflect — are a major factor in the nation’s $2.7 trillion medical bill. Payments to doctors in the United States, who make far more than their counterparts in other developed countries, account for 20 percent of American health care expenses, second only to hospital costs. Doctors who practice in areas of medicine considered as specialties such as dermatology, gastroenterology and oncology, are getting rich in spite of the fact that the quality of care has not improved. The Times’ article notes, “That math explains why the incomes of dermatologists, gastroenterologists and oncologists rose 50 percent or more between 1995 and 2012, even when adjusted for inflation, while those for primary care physicians rose only 10 percent and lag far behind, since insurers pay far less for traditional doctoring tasks like listening for a heart murmur or prescribing the right antibiotic.” What makes matters worse is that patients who go to these specialists aren’t told of the costs associated with these medical procedures until they receive a bill.

Holly Haines