New research finds that fees paid to physicians in the U.S. are higher than in other countries and are the main cause of higher overall spending in America on physicians' services.
Doc fees drive higher U.S. spending on physician care
The study—which appears in the September issue of the journal Health Affairs—reported that 2008 per capita spending on physicians services in the U.S. was $1,599, while per-person spending for these services across all other Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development countries averaged about 81% less than that, or about $310 per person.
Meanwhile, the study showed that public and private payers paid somewhat higher fees to primary-care physicians and much higher fees to orthopedic physicians for hip replacements than their public and private counterparts in other countries. And both U.S. primary-care and orthopedic physicians also earned higher incomes—$186,582 for the former and $442,450 for the latter—than those physicians in other countries.
“For decades, concern has been raised that greater financial incentives may be needed so that enough American doctors will choose to become primary-care physicians,” wrote the study's co-authors, Miriam Laugesen, an assistant professor of health policy and management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and Sherry Glied, assistant secretary of planning and evaluation at HHS who is on leave from her role as professor of health policy at management at Columbia. “Our analysis suggests that policymakers in all countries need to consider how differential prices paid by both public- and private-sector payers to specialists influence specialty choices,” according to the report.
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