A doctor's thoughts on your use of the term "medical-industrial complex."

Hi Professor Wolff. I enjoy your lectures and have recommended you to several friends and colleagues. While I agree with you on many of the points regarding our inefficient and overpriced healthcare system, I feel that your lumping in of physicians along with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and medical insurance companies into the evil "medical-industrial complex" is misguided. First, we must acknowledge the current transition towards a system where thousands of doctors (including myself and dozens of colleagues) are now employed by a hospital or a large organization (Kaiser, Sutter, etc). We have ZERO role in setting the prices of our services, procedures or tests. The majority of us have gone through several years of extensive training (myself 11 years including medical school), have enormous medical school debt and are focused primarily on the well being of our patients. Of course, we expect to be well compensated for our expertise and services but most of us didn't choose this field to become millionaires. To compare us to or put us in the same entity as hospital CEOs, pharm CEOs and medical insurance CEOs (all of whom are obsessed with the bottom line and have extremely wealthy CEOs and administrators), is simply incorrect and misleading to your audience. Of course, there are still many doctors in private practice who set the prices for their visits and services. Remember that in addition to med school bills that they have to pay for office rent, an office manager, a biller, a medical assistant, etc. Are there bad apples? Of course there are in every field but I would venture to say only a small minority of these private practice doctors are crooks who purposefully create unfair prices or perform unnecessary procedures to become wealthy. It addition, unless it's a rare cash only practice, the final compensation tends to be dictated by what the insurance company decides to pay. In conclusion, I agree with the majority of your criticisms with our inefficient and expensive healthcare system. I agree that hospitals, medical insurance companies, and pharm/medical device companies operate in a capitalistic and monopolistic way that can adversely affect patients. But, the majority of doctors are not a part of this evil medical-industrial complex that you describe.

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  • Trent Dale
    tagged this with upvote 2018-04-25 09:26:56 -0400
  • Cyrus Shariat
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-07-15 22:48:49 -0400