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Doctors and Dollars

In Issue:

Doctor with hands cuffed in a U.S. dollar sign

Doctored by Gwenda Kaczor

Most doctors today, whether in academic or private practice, have to constantly think about money. In 2009, Dr. Pamela Hartzband and her husband, Dr. Jerome Groopman, physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine that “price tags are being applied to every aspect of a doctor’s day, creating an acute awareness of costs and reimbursement.” They added: “Today’s medical students are being inducted into a culture in which their profession is seen increasingly in financial terms.” …

I discovered a tension between my dual roles as a faculty physician and a hospital employee. As a faculty physician in the Division of Cardiology [at Long Island Jewish Medical Center], I was trying to generate more revenue for my particular section. As a hospital employee, I was trying to keep down overall hospital costs. Nowhere was this conflict more evident than in my charge to reduce the length of stay of patients hospitalized with heart failure.

The longer a patient stayed in the hospital, using up a greater amount of resources, the more money the hospital stood to lose. Of course, the longer a patient stayed, the greater the likelihood of hospital-acquired infections or harm from tests and procedures, which meant that timely discharge, in most cases, was good for the hospital and patients alike. …

To read the entire article, pick up the January/February 2015 issue of The Saturday Evening Post on newsstands or …

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  • D Reiter

    Health care providers have, for decades, been paid by third parties, most notably insureres, Medicare and Medicaid. Imagin if your mechanic or department store or grocer could recommend the top of the line items and then bill some one else? The health care providers are now being pushed to incorporate cost into their analysis and recommendations, because the spare-no-expense approach cannot be sustained. This is absolutely necessary. We as a nation must face the fact that we cannot afford to provide everyone with a medical Ferrari on a Ford budget. We spend so much and yet, in general, we are less healthy than most industrialized countries. Surely diet and lifestyle are contributing factors, but why should we as a society pay so much for health care? My premiums have increased nearly 400% in 11 years, as my deductible increased from $1,000 to $5,000. And I am a relatively healthy person.

  • dorothy

    ANY WAY YOU LOOK AT IT , DOCTORS ARE MAKING A KILLING !! DRIVE BY THIER HOUSE`S SOME DAY ! THAT
    IS WHERE YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY WENT !! ARE YOU FEELING ANY BETTER?? A PERSON WITH A
    NORMAL JOB AND JUST ONE INCOME CAN NOT AFFORD TO GET SICK !!