Posted on April 11, 2019
For some context, my topic is about why doctors get paid so much compared to most other jobs and whether it’s possible to decrease wages, while still maintaining the quality of the health care industry. I think it’s pretty obvious that health care in America is incredibly expensive and seems inflated compared to other countries and their services. Even something as simple as an ambulance ride can costs thousands of dollars without proper insurance. I wanted to explore why everything in the medical industry is so expensive by starting with the question: Should we pay doctors less money? This question can potentially help solve the problem of these inflated prices, but it may also have some repercussions that may not necessarily be worth it. I’ll save all of that stuff for my actual essay.
While I was doing my preliminary research about the topic, many researchers were talking about medical school costs and younger doctors or “junior doctors” being underpaid right out of college. They talked about how the cost of medical school has steadily been increasing because of increasing costs for equipment, staff expertise, and other services. It became pretty apparent that people in the medical industry expect to get paid so much money because they also have to pay a lot of money. Basically, everything in the medical industry is stuck in like a cycle of paying too much, if that makes any sense.
I stumbled upon something pretty crazy in my research which might be the cause of the problems previously stated. There’s a list of the prices a hospital should charge for each procedure called the chargemaster. The chargemaster has incredibly inflated prices for every service a hospital offers. Often times, the prices listed in the chargemaster are generalized for most hospitals. So essentially, hospitals band together and set the price of all procedures, which is essentially what happens in a monopoly. The chargemaster dictates pretty much how much money the hospital would make, how much the doctors will get paid, and how much the patients have to pay with or without insurance.
When I first chose this topic, I thought I was looking at a potential solution to a pretty big problem in America. If we pay doctors less, maybe hospital costs would go down and health care would be cheaper. As I learned more, however, I think I became more cynical about the whole topic. I don’t really think there can be much done about the issue. Paying doctors less money and attempting to offset the entire inflated price system seems incredibly unrealistic unless there are major political moves made. Also, there is a possibility that lowering doctor wages won’t actually change prices because of the charge masters defining hospital costs. The problem got a lot more complex than I ever imagined.