Climate Change Project

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Myth 6: The Physician's Lot Is Not a Happy One

The average physician earns several times the mean annual income for families in the United States; aggressive practitioners can earn several hundred thousand dollars or more a year. When the equity of this compensation is questioned, the profession responds that high pay is the only way to reward physicians for the onerous burden of practicing medicine. Yet fewer and fewer physicians practice medicine in a style that earns them any sympathy from their patients.

The lovable family doctor who takes calls every night and sees his or her own patients in the emergency room has virtually disappeared. When physicians join large groups so they are only on call a few nights a month, require patients to pay up-front for care so collections stay high, practice at expensive for-profit hospitals, and then assure patients that financial considerations never color their medical decision making, the entire profession looks hypocritical.

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