Time for doctors to accept a deal that includes lower pay

It’s time for doctors to accept lower pay, but in return for malpractice reform and subsidized education costs, says one physician.

As the U.S. struggles to contain healthcare costs, physicians deserve to be well paid, but not to the extent that they bankrupt the country, Peter Ubel, M.D., a physician and behavioral scientist at Duke University, writes in a column for Forbes.

He questions whether the average orthopedic surgeon should be paid more than $535,000 or the average dermatologist earn more than $400,000.

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“In the case of physician pay, it’s time to make a deal,” Ubel writes. In return for highly paid physicians taking a pay cut, he believes doctors should get a couple of tradeoffs. Those include:

  • Malpractice reform, so that neurosurgeons, obstetricians and other doctors are not sued simply because patients experience what Ubel called tragic and often unpreventable disability.
  • Subsidized medical education, so physicians leave medical school with relatively little debt, making it easier to accept more modestly paid jobs. Right now many doctors graduate from medical school with six-figure debt.


And it’s not just physician salaries that contribute to high medical costs. There are many other sectors of the healthcare industry benefiting from high prices—including pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers and medical technology companies that are paid generously for their services by the healthcare industry, he says.