Sunday, June 27, 2010

Salaried Physicians: Effects On Health Care?

Just saw a couple of New York Times articles, looking at the trend of physicians moving from private practice and into salaried positions.  The first is nearly a year old, and discusses the benefits of the trend for many physicians.  The benefits for many doctors is the ability to focus on medical care and less on business needs, while health systems (and maybe health care overall) benefit from lower costs that result from less duplication of services, (maybe) fewer tests and visits, and better doctor-to-doctor communication.  The second article is more recent, and discusses the continued trend as well as noting that salaried physicians tend to be more politically liberal.

The articles note the benefits to entering a salaried position: stable hours, focusing on medicine vs. business, etc; they also comment on some of the downsides: likely lower salaries when all is said and done, less individual say in practice policies, etc.  However, more and more young physicians are concerned about loan burdens and work-life balance, and the stability and reliability offered by a stable salary can be very appealing.

The second article does not discuss the leftward shift in physicians' politics once they become salaried in great detail, and doesn't provide much support to the claim.  But it is interesting to consider the future if the proportion of salaried physicians keeps increasing.  Is it possible that ideas such as a public option or a single payer system could gain further strength and additional support within medical organizations heading forward?

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