Patient ROI has no link to doc’s pay

A patient points out that doctors’ pay has not corresponded to the quality of care she has received over the years of living with a chronic health condition.

People literally can’t stop talking about Dr. Keith Smith’s defense of his right to earn a fair wage. As of today, there are 167 comments on the article.

In addition to the people complaining about welfare bums and greedy doctors, there are many thoughtful commenters in the mix. We are highlighting some of the best insights, including this one from “TheGoodPatient.” Her experience shows that even if you pay your own way with healthcare, that’s no guarantee of good care.

“I am a middle-aged, middle-class, single, childless, well-educated, African-American woman. During the recession, I was unemployed/underemployed for nearly three years. I did not utilize Medicaid during that period of my life. I either self-paid or didn’t see a doctor. I probably will utilize Medicare when I am elderly (if the program still exists). I have and continue to be a polite and respectful patient.

I agree that doctors ought to be paid fair market value for the healthcare services that they provide. Yet, in my experiences with doctors, I have paid premium rates for poor or no healthcare for most of my adult life — not just the three years of unemployment/underemployment. While the majority of doctors I’ve seen have been happy to take top pay from me directly (when I was uninsured) or from my insurer, for their services, they have failed to take care of me. Additionally, the lack of care has been delivered with the utmost disrespect.

Examples of this include me showing up early only to wait up to an hour to see the CPN instead of the doctor, or rearranging my work schedule (which by the way, if I don’t work, how can I pay?) only to have the doctor leave to attend to a patient in the ER without notifying me at check-in. The majority of doctors I’ve seen don’t listen to me. They have missed medical conditions that have caused me to suffer, needlessly, for over two decades. And then there are the doctors who game the system — yes, I’m talking about fraud. In what other industry could such lack of productivity and unethical behavior go unchecked?

My experiences and this article lead me to conclude that most doctors just don’t want to do their jobs but still get paid, regardless of the medical and financial consequences to patients. While Obamacare may not be the perfect solution to providing choice healthcare for all citizens, I argue, that it is not the reason why the author of this article and doctors like him, are moving away from serving elderly and poor patients — and eventually middle-class patients. I appreciate that doctors don’t work for free. And I also believe that many doctors get paid for nothing. That being stated, it would be helpful to hear from someone who is honest about the U.S. medical practice as a for-profit business industry that requires solutions for patient advocacy and practitioners’ ethics.”

Comments have been edited for clarity and length.
[Image from flickr user TedEytan]

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