Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Doctors May Whine But Nobody's Listening
The Happy Hospitalist recounts an enlightening exchange at a restaurant with an acquaintance. When asked how they were doing, the friends were surprised that Happy and his wife were not driving a Lamborghini. Why would he be driving a Lamborghini? Because he is a doctor, and aren't all doctors rich and self important and drive expensive and exotic cars like a Lamborghini? Try explaining the trials and tribulations of being a physician and nobody will believe you. Happy did, and I'm sure it fell on deaf ears.
Todd Henderson, a University of Chicago law professor, recently blogged about how President Obama's planned tax increases on the wealthy (income greater than $250,000/yr) is going to severely affect his family's lifestyle. He and his wife, a pediatric oncologist, claim to make just over the arbitrary definition of rich. With both of their student loans totally over $250,000, taxes, childcare, private education for their children, and various domestic help, they claim to save only a few hundred dollars a month. This blog was ridiculed by hundreds of readers for its self-pitying tone and unrealistic expectations. You're not going to get any sympathies for having to cut back on professional lawn care services.
According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in 2008 was $52,029. I bet greater than 90% of physicians make more than $100,000 a year. When doctors grouse about the enormous debt burdens they carry or how they are operating at a loss from pitiful Medicare payments, most people don't believe it. They still think we all drive around in expensive imported sports cars, and judging by the profusion of BMW's, Lexuses, and Mercedes in doctors' parking lots, who could blame them? When families of four have to survive on $40,000 a year, this moaning by "the rich" doctors just sounds petty.
Does that mean we just roll over and accept whatever punishment is meted out to us? No. We can work within the system by contributing to various medical PACS and medical societies. We can write letters to our congressmen and attempt to influence legislation that will benefit physician interests. Physicians can contribute to candidates who expresses sympathy in helping our causes. But for God's sake, stop fussing publicly about how we can't live on a six figure salary. Nobody is listening.