Do doctors make too much money?

February 12, 2008
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Health insurance companies including Indianapolis' own WellPoint Inc. have been relentless in trying to suppress spiraling health costs. So relentless, in fact, that doctors are pushing back.

Physician groups in Kokomo, Rushville and other cities are refusing to take new patients insured through WellPoint's Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance.

In Indianapolis, Community Health Network and its 170 doctors are in a contract dispute with Minnesota-based UnitedHealthcare. Late last month Community CEO Bill Corley said the two entities had been unable to agree to "reasonable reimbursement rates."

In a case followed by IBJ reporter J.K. Wall, Internal Medicine Associates in Bloomington is threatening to not treat Anthem patients, period. The upshot: The patients can pay out of pocket or find new insurance if they want to keep seeing Internal Medicine docs.

Government figures show the average wage for all doctors and surgeons in the state is $174,500.

Are doctors underpaid and caught in the middle, or are they part of the problem?
  • Everyone in the medical industry is to blame because everyone pads the bill just a little more than needed. Colleges charge just a little more than is necessary for a student to get his doctorate, and doctors charge just a little more than is necessary to live a comfortable life and pay off those outrageous college loans, and hospitals charge just a little more than is necessary to accomodate and treat the patient, and medical equipment suppliers charge just a little more than it takes to make a reasonable profit on development and manufacture of their product, and pharmaceutical companies charge just a little more than it takes to make a decent profit on development and manufacture of their medicines. So when everyone pads their bill by just a couple thousand dollars you end up with an eight thousand dollar procedure that costs the insurer twenty thousand dollars.

    Those extraneous twelve thousand dollars are passed on in the form of higher premiums and of course any insurer worth their weight is going to get a little something for themselves by padding a couple thousand dollars of their own onto those higher premiums.

    This situation festered and grew because of complacency on the part of employers who habitually agreed to higher premiums for their workers health plans, so the insurers had no reason to contest the health care costs that were rising at four or more times the rate of inflation.

    Bravo to Wellpoint and United Health for attempting to put an end to this ridiculous fat cat rocket ship of greed, by cutting out their own excess and the excess of the entire health care train.
  • If you look at it, almost every part of the health care industry has a hand in the the sickly's back pocket... and no it is not the Love Virus, it is the Greed Virus (play on words). If health care costs are going 4 times the speed of inflation, when I go in for a check up, they better have a serum to make me fly or see through walls or some other super power.
  • While I'm sure there are some physicians who make a very comfortable living, I have had conversations with some doctors that were surprising--at least to me. One, an extremely talented ENT surgeon, had endured so many reimbursement cuts from Cigna that he had to drop patients. He was paying more out of pocket than he was being reimbursed for certain procedures. Another gifted physician earns $50,000 a year--not much for receiving advanced training. paying off huge student loans and being available nearly 24/7 to patients.
  • Couldn't the insurance companies also drive down costs by reducing the compensation of their executives? I'm sure they make a lot more than most doctors.
  • Anyone who believes that primary care docs are making tons of money is deluded. That may have been the case 30 years ago, but nobody is getting rich off primary care these days. Doctors get paid less and less while our costs rise and rise. These costs include 30 year loans for student debt that is guaranteed to be over $100,000. If you don't believe it, anyone is welcome to visit my practice.

    Only insurance execs are getting rich in this environment. This is what happens when you have unbridled greed and MBAs making profits instead of caring for people. Also you have politicians that are best friends with the insurance lobby. If you don't believe that, go visit the statehouse and see a health care committee meeting where the only people testifying are insurance lobbyists. They own the process. The patients and physicians are left out. Why are we not there?? We cannot afford to leave our practices for a day.

    I am exceptionally tired of people who know nothing about how medical services are provided and paid for pontificating on what is wrong. Get some inside knowledge before you blame physicians for the many faults of our system.
  • I have to agree with Brian and IndyPediatrician...

    It's not the doctors who are getting our money!

    It would seem that the majority of the money in the industry is not getting where it needs to go. The money should be going into medical education, research-and-development and the doctors, instead, it seems to be stopping in the insurance providers hands indefinately.

    It's amazing to me that all these so-called insurance companies build fancy new facilities every day and pay their CEO's hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries (just how much of a salary does the Anthem CEO deserve?). That money is spent BY the people who need the care and it doesn't seem to get TO those who actually provide the care.

    It's obvious the system is broken (even without Michael Moore having to tell it), thank the powers that be that I rarely need medical care. I do pay for insurance, but have only twice used my benefits in the last few years, so these so-called providers aren't really providing anything to me, they're providing my money to their own uses.

    I'm pretty disgusted with the system, almost enough to drop my medical insurance completely!
  • how much do doctors make?

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