From the NY Times
Unless you read the whole article, (and it's quite long, when you include the survey responses) you will miss some of the details buried there ... the snappy headline is not the whole story.
$350,000 doesn't sound like an outrageous compensation for a skilled specialist to me. Especially not when our Congress critters can get $175,000, plus a bunch of perks and up till recently, no restrictions on "insider trading"; and Obama was still collecting royalties on his books at a greater level than that as of his 2011 tax returns.The same specialties tend to appear at the top of physician earners: orthopedics, cardiology, anesthesiology, radiology, dermatology, plastic surgery, urology, gastroenterology and ophthalmology. Physicians in those fields typically earn more than $350,000 annually, according to American Medical Group Association,
Doubling compensation in a 10-year period ... from $175,000 to $350,000 ... for skills that are more in demand due to an aging population.Oncologists benefit from the ability to mark up (and profit from) each dose of chemotherapy they administer in private offices, a practice increased dramatically in the late 1990s. The median compensation for oncologists nearly doubled from 1995 to 2004, to $350,000, according to the M.G.M.A.
While there are certainly plenty of examples in the article of abuse of charging patients, these particular citations above do not strike me as outrageous.
I can't say I know what a hip replacement involves in terms of time and skill by the doctor, but this example of reimbursements by Medicare seemed out of whack:
Survey reply from a physician:
I'd say that true health care reform would take a lot of input from "man on the street" among providers, patients, insurors to fully explore how each of the costs impacts the ultimate price of the services rendered. Not just the lobbyists, but from the grass roots.John C NYC, United States
Medicare currently pays an orthopedic surgeon approximately $1200 for a total hip replacement in Nassau County. Managed care pays a little more or a little less. This includes the operation and 90 days of follow-up. 20 years ago Medicare paid about $3600 for the same work. During this time the cost of malpractice insurance has about doubled ($130,000 per year now). And not surprisingly the cost of supplies, rent, staff, electric have all gone up.