Dalmia Goes Non-Linear

I usually like Shikha Dalmia. But this article, castigating the AMA — which you will remember I am not a friend of — is stunningly ignorant.

(Note: part of this is based on e-mail exchanges with my dad, who is a surgeon).

First off, the AMA represents less than 1/6 of doctors, including academics. They are hardly a cartel although I will let on that they have too much influence.

Second, she claims:

According to a 2007 study by McKinsey&Company, physician compensation bumps up health care spending in America by $58 billion annually,on average, because U.S. doctors make twice as much as their OECD peers. And even the poorest in specializations like radiology and surgery routinely rake in around $400,000 annually.

This is not even supported by the article she cites:

Surveys by medical-practice management groups show that American doctors make an average of $200,000 to $300,000 a year. Primary care doctors and pediatricians make less, between $125,000 and $200,000, but in specialties like radiology, physicians can take home $400,000 or more.

In other words, the 400 grand she cites as what the poorest doctors make is, in fact, the high end of the range. Now that’s misquoting.

That article notes that our doctors make a lot more than doctors in other countries, which is a questionable point in and of itself. Even without any corrections for different economic systems, however, $100-300 grand does not seem to me an unreasonable salary for someone who saves lives, works seven days a week and is constantly on call for the hospital.

Someone also noted in the comments that she conveniently takes the cost of physician compensation from one source, then cherry-picks a figure for defensive medicine from another. That’s Michael Moore territory.

Dalmia’s article is poorly researched bashing of a political organization she doesn’t like that, not coincidentally, manages to slag all doctors in the process. This is something I expect from Daily Kos, not Reason and not Forbes.

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