Physicians Are Talking; Join the Conversation!

Neil Chesanow

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July 22, 2014

Are Doctors Being Exploited?

Physicians have seen their incomes fall, their clout with insurers shrink, and their practices weighed down by a plethora of new requirements. Some say the lower payments and new requirements are the natural result of a society trying to reduce national healthcare costs. Others see this as the direct result of exploitation by payers, hospitals, and policy-makers.

Many physicians noted that doctors have no way to fight back; they're not going to refuse to treat patients. Some doctors say that they are unfairly attacked because people resent doctors making "too much" money. Yet many doctors say physicians themselves are at fault for the situation.

"The short answer is yes, doctors are exploited! And doctors know it," observed one respondent.

"The system is simply crazy!" said one doctor. "Although people give lip service to medicine, the system as it is designed does not favor doctors even slightly. The best way one can hope to respond is push their children into something else," another physician commented.

"We are being pressured to do more with less pay and less utilization of diagnostic studies, yet we are the ones ultimately responsible if a failure to diagnose occurs," a third doctor opined. "Dealing with sick people is much different from manufacturing cars and flying planes."

Added a physician assistant, "It's time physicians realized that they have been had. It's the job of the healthcare provider to provide healthcare, not shoulder the burden of insurance billing, dealing with Medicare or Medicaid, or even sitting on hospital committees for free. The burden of paying for healthcare rests with the patient, no one else."

One doctor felt that doctor exploitation was a self-inflicted wound. "Some physicians say that doctors are partly responsible for the situation," he wrote. "Part of the problem is, a few years ago when the American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, and other medical 'representative' entities were standing up and supporting Obama and his healthcare plan, real doctors did not stand up for themselves."

"Stop complaining and do something, another doctor chided. Physicians need to look for solutions among themselves and stop waiting for insurance companies, hospitals, and policy-makers to solve our problems. There is power in unity."

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