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Opinion Physicians, not economists, can heal health care

A hospital corridor.
A hospital corridor. (iStock)
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Regarding the Jan. 8 article “Health-care costs are like an $8,000 ‘tax’ on every family, economists say”:

Economists attacking physician salaries when the United States spends $800 billion per year on superfluous administrative paperwork is misguided. Americans spent only $694.3 billion for physicians and clinical services during the same year. Only in the United States would administrative costs exceed the amount spent on highly trained professionals responsible for people’s lives.

Was any consideration given to the high debt burden facing most young physicians, their exceptionally long training requirements, the onerous litigation environment in the United States or even the hours physicians work? Physician salaries are neither the fastest growing nor the largest expenditures in our health-care budget by a long shot.

Instead, let’s examine the concentration of hospital monopolies, which studies show increase costs between 7 percent and 17 percent. Unless addressed, the $1.15 trillion spent on hospital care will grow unchecked. Congress just provided health insurers tax relief worth an estimated $352 billion over 10 years by repealing the health insurance tax and “Cadillac tax.”

It might make for a good headline to attack physicians, but the truth is that physicians, not economists, are best suited to lead health-care reform.

Gary Price, Washington

The writer is president of the
Physicians Foundation.

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