When the word “doctor” comes to mind, what do you think of? Do the words “rich”, “Mercedes” and “mansion” come to mind? Or do the words “medical school”, “stress” and “24-hour surgery” resonate in your head? The question of whether doctors are overpaid is a highly debated topic, and there are two sides to the story.
Of course, when people read that a Canadian doctor’s gross income is a whopping $307,000 (1), they start clicking the buttons of their mental calculator and automatically equate doctors to being billionaires. Seeing as physician’s services are the third most cost-demanding aspect of healthcare (following hospitals, and drugs) (1), many people advocate lowering a physician’s salary as they think doctors are surely overpaid.
On the other hand, many would argue that not all of the money goes into the physician’s pocket. Because the previous value mentioned is a gross income, the number would be significantly lower after paying overhead fees and taxes. Overhead fees may include rent, salaries, supplies, and insurance (2). It is estimated that before taxes, a physician’s income is around $225,000 and about $127,100 after taxes (2).
Doctor’s income seem to be rising steadily over the years, and with the taxpayers paying billions of dollars annually already, it may not be long before the healthcare services become too much for them to bear. While physicians claim that the government is underfunding the system, taxpayers are complaining that the price has become too high to afford (3).
Interestingly, despite the increase in salary, half of the physicians do not find themselves to be properly compensated (4). Perhaps it is the millions of dollars doctors have poured out for education that left them in significant debt that then needs to be paid off. Or it may be the stress-inducing environment that they constantly work in, on top of many years of education, that makes them feel that way.
All in all, it is important to acknowledge that every physician has sacrificed a great deal and are working very hard to earn the salary. Do you think physicians are overpaid?
By Arlinda Deng
1) The Globe and Mail. MDs’ gross income $307,000, report finds [Internet]. 2013 [cited 6 February 2015]. Available from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/mds-gross-income-307000-report-finds/article7640498/
2) The Globe and Mail. How much are Canadian doctors paid? [Internet]. 2013 [cited 6 February 2015]. Available from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/how-much-are-canadian-doctors-paid/article7750697/
3) The Globe and Mail. Doctors’ salaries are on the rise, but services per patients aren’t, report says [Internet]. 2013 [cited 6 February 2015]. Available from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/doctors-salaries-are-on-the-rise-but-services-per-patients-arent-report-says/article13521594/
4) Medscape.com. Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2014 [Internet]. 2015 [cited 6 February 2015]. Available from: http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2014/public/overview#8