Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dallas County Medical Society President Sets The Record Straight Too …

Richard Snyder II, MD, president of the Dallas County Medical Society, spoke up to set the record straight, too. He sent a letter to The Dallas Morning News in response to the misguided commentary it published on July 29 by Eli Lehrer. The article titled “Your Doctor Makes Too Much Money” claimed health care costs are high because of the salaries made by all health care professionals. Read Dr. Valenti’s response posted here on July 31.

Dear Editor,

The Eli Lehrer article “Your Physician Makes Too Much Money” in the July 29 Dallas Morning News is stunningly erroneous and misleading. We agree that total healthcare costs are a major obstacle to expanding access to the uninsured. Where to cut costs is where we vehemently disagree. Lehrer states that wages and benefits represent two thirds of healthcare costs. However, most studies have indicated that physician salaries are much lower, ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent. In fact, a study published in May by Jackson Healthcare found that US physician salaries as a percentage of total healthcare costs are among the lowest of western nations (8.6 percent); only Sweden at 8.5 percent was lower. For comparison, salaries of German physicians are responsible for 15 percent of that country’s healthcare costs. Clearly physician compensation is not the major driver of high healthcare costs in the United States.

Furthermore Lehrer clearly is misleading when he compares medical school training (four years) to that for other professions (law, three years; business, two). He neglects to mention that all physicians must do residency training, which extends their total education process to 7-12 years after college, depending on their specialty. Besides the financial implications, this more importantly, for many physicians, means delaying starting a family until their late twenties or early thirties. Additionally, I have looked long and hard and have failed to find a call schedule for lawyers or business executives for emergencies after hours and on holidays. The work intensity of most nonmedical professions rarely has life-and-death implications.

Your decision to run this article was nothing short of reckless and unprofessional. Please do the right thing and publish a correction article to this sloppy piece of journalism.

Richard W. Snyder II, MD 
President, Dallas County Medical Society

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