U.S. physician fees high, hospital costs steady

Despite a new study in Health Affairs concluding that U.S. physician compensation is far higher than in other industrialized nations, hospital costs appear to be in line with other industrialized nations.

According to the study, which was conducted by researchers from Columbia University, the United States earmarked 32.9 percent of all healthcare spending toward hospital services, compared to nearly 40 percent in Australia and 35 percent in France. Germany and Canada, the two other advanced nations used for comparison, has significantly lower rates.

However, physician compensation for primary care doctors and orthopedic specialists was much higher in the United States than in any of the other industrialized nations. Compensation for hip replacements, for example, was more than double that of France and Canada.

The data could prove useful to hospitals, which have been hiring more physicians as employees--a trend that is likely to increase with the proliferation of accountable care organizations. It could also prove a defense for impending Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts.

For more information:
- read the New York Times article
- here's the Health Affairs abstract