According to a recent study published in the September issue of Health Affairs, one of the key drivers behind the skyrocketing healthcare costs in the United States is the amount of fees payable to the physicians. According to an article published on MedPage Today, the study found that the United States spends in excess of $7500 per person on health care and more than 21% of that is for ambulatory care services performed in physician offices. The next closest country in spending to the United States is a Canada which spends roughly $4000 per person on health care services.
According to the study, reimbursement to physicians in the United States far outpaces that paid to physicians in other countries. For example, Medicare pays physicians approximately $60 for a primary care visit while public insurance reimbursement for a primary care visit in France is approximately $32 and in the United Kingdom is $66. The largest discrepancy in the physician reimbursement and between the United States and other countries is in the specialty of orthopedic surgery. According to the study, orthopedic surgeons in the United States are paid 70% more by Medicare than orthopedic surgeons are paid for the same service on average by public insurance plans in other countries.
Although the authors of the study pointed out that whether or not higher reimbursement rates it to US physicians is warranted was beyond the scope of the study, surely the last thing the practicing physicians in this country need is more evidence suggesting that they’re overpaid.