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Friday November 24 2017

Are Doctors Overpaid?

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

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References:
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

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8 comments
  1. yes but it’s a job which requires only a lot of memory. physicians don’t invent anything. they only use their memory. it was hard if it was about inventing and being very precise.

    1. To reduce a physician’s role to “only using their memory” is to be completely ignorant of the stresses, demands, knowledge and talents required for the job. Not to mention it is people’s lives and health on the line, something people would quickly admit as a priority once it is their own on the line. Memory alone does not allow a physician to do their job – it is critical thinking, tact, patience, knowledge, application, everything all under the big umbrellas of confidentiality, autonomy, and informed consent that drive today’s healthcare system. It is a constant battle against the media, against pharmaceutical companies, against everyone who manipulates people’s minds, causes them to push for certain diagnoses, push for certain drugs. I’m not saying whether a doctor deserves or doesn’t deserve the salary they get. I’m simply saying that “only a lot of memory” doesn’t cut it.

  2. Of course they are highly overpaid. It’s scandalous, actually, and totally indefensible. There are so many professionals (clinical psychologists, engineers, architects, lawyers, academics, nurses, etc.) who have to face long years of schooling at great expense and who begin their careers with low salaries and very long hours. Many of these people also carry s great deal of responsibility. There is absolutely no reason why a doctor should take home a salary several times higher than these people, and it’s fundamentally wrong for doctors to enrich themselves to this degree on the public purse. The health care industry should not be run like a racket.

    1. I’d just like to point out that there comes a very **significant** stress when one is responsible for someone else’s life, and this stress is significantly higher than the stresses associated with constructing buildings or handling cases in court. To know that at every moment, someone is depending on you for the health of their body and mind, depending on you to decide what drug they should or shouldn’t take, what test they should undergo, what prognosis they have for the future, etc – to know all this and to work under such a stress is not the same as most other jobs. I feel people who do not enter the medical field will never truly appreciate the added stress that comes from being directly responsible for people’s health and well-being.

  3. With Trudeau’s new tax system combined with the Ontario rate of taxation, for the upcoming year some individuals from the highest tax brackets will be forced into a rate of over 50%. This is extremely distressing as it means there is an effective “brain drain” as mentioned by Kevin O’Leary on our doctors, lawyers and other professionals which will cause Canada to lose its best talents as a result. Not to mention the net effect of the opportunity cost from losing these professionals.

  4. You don’t know what you are talking about. Most doctors are incorporated. Their tax rate is lower than their secretaries’. Look it up if you don’t believe me. 50% tax ? brain drain? give me a break. More like 18% tax. Moving to Obama country where doctors got sued constantly and the pay for doctors is getting lower?

  5. While a physician’s salary could be argued to be well above the national average, physicians also experience pressures and stress that could be argued to be incomparable to other professions – such as physician burnout by working 80 hrs a week and the suicide rate of residents steadily increasing. To compensate for the sacrifice of physicians’ health, I believe that this salary is justified.

  6. Not just doctors,everyone who works in healthcare are overpaid.Nurses, Psychologists, Analysts etc all make a ton of money.Finally everything is passed on to the public.Healthcare jobs are recession proof as well unlike jobs in Tech or Banking.

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The Meducator is McMaster University’s undergraduate Health Sciences Journal. It publishes pieces that critically address current issues with a high degree of scientific rigor, but in a way that is accessible to a broad audience.

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