Sunday, August 29, 2021

Are American Doctors Overpaid?

Here we go again--another article that compares physician incomes around the world. It's not surprising that they almost always show American doctors are paid more than any other country's, seeming to confirm the belief that the US healthcare system is too expensive because of greedy doctors. However, there is a big caveat in any of these international physician income comparisons. We will get to that. This time, the income survey comes to us courtesy of Medscape. 

Medscape International Physician Compensation Survey

Medscape's study, in a survey of thousands of doctors around the world, once again shows American doctors are paid much more than anybody else, with an average income of $316,000. This is almost twice as much as second place Germany ($183,000) and United Kingdom ($138,000). Mexican physicians earned the least in this survey, averaging only $12,000.

American primary care doctors made about the same as their German counterparts, $242,000 to $200,000. But that is still twice as much as the UK, $122,000. Our specialists made far more than anywhere else, with male specialists earning $376,000. Meanwhile the German specialists made $194,000 and the UK specialists earned $155,000. It's plain that the Europeans place more of an emphasis on compensating their primary care doctors rather than their specialists like we do here.

Since American doctors make the most money, it goes to reason that our net worth is far higher than anyone else's. American physicians' net worths average $1,742,000. The UK doctors' net worths average only a third of Americans, $657,000. Germans are even lower, $441,000.

What are the debts that physicians have to carry? As expected, doctors around the world have mortgage payments to make and car loans to pay off. No surprise there. What is unfortunately not covered in the survey are the expenses that American doctors are faced with and makes our system uniquely expensive and burdensome.

American doctors carry a huge amount of student loan debt when they graduate from medical school. That expense is carried through the three to seven year residency and fellowship programs when there is not enough income to pay back the loan. Therefore doctors here are burdened with a giant fiscal deficit when they first begin their practices. Perhaps this important aspect of American medical economics is not asked of our international counterparts because their doctors are usually trained for free or with just nominal fees. 

International physicians also don't have to worry as much about medical malpractice lawsuits. American doctors face annual five to six figure malpractice insurance expenses that our global compatriots don't even have to think about. 

Yes American doctors make more money than anywhere else in the world. But we also have the highest education debts and the highest insurance expenses. You subtract these payments and our incomes aren't so disparate after all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Past President Of The Kansas Society Of Anesthesiologists Indicted For Fraud

Scott T. Roethle, MD
This is totally effing unbelievable. Dr. Scott T. Roethle, MD, an anesthesiologist residing in the state of Kansas, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for healthcare fraud. What makes this case so difficult to fathom is that Dr. Roethle is a past president of the Kansas Society of Anesthesiologists. He has also served as a delegate to the ASA and an executive director of the Kansas City Medical Society. In addition, he appears to be involved in multiple start up companies according to his bio

According to the indictment, Dr. Roethle was charged with receiving kickbacks worth $674,000 for writing prescriptions for patients he never saw or documented. He would charge $30 per prescription. His orders were usually for orthopedic devices or lab tests that the patients said they never asked for. This fraud carried on from 2017 to 2020. Medicare says they lost $26 million for these phony prescriptions. He has medical licenses in 22 states and thus could write prescriptions for patients all over the country. 

I'd like to think that there is more than one Scott T. Roethle who is an anesthesiologist in Kansas. I would love to be proven wrong and chalk this up as a mistaken identity. But Google only found one Scott Roethle, MD and the ASA's own membership directory showed only a single anesthesiologist in the whole country by this name. In a physician review website, Dr. Scott Roethle is listed as having ten disciplinary actions taken against him by different medical boards across the country. How do doctors continue to find hospitals who will hire them when they've got so much baggage? 

Dr. Roethle, good luck with your court case. I hope they throw you in the slammer and take away your medical license forever for besmirching the reputations of anesthesiologists everywhere. Was your life really worth a measly $30 per prescription or $674,000 over four years? Any decent anesthesiologist can make much more than that working an honest job.