Perception of doctors and health care 
Author Message
 Perception of doctors and health care

The following article by columnist Mike Royko is his humorous commentary
on some of the public's perception of doctors and their salaries.
I hope some of you will find it as amusing as I did.

[Reprinted w/o permission]

"There's no cure for stupidity of poll on doctors' salaries"

By Mike Royko
Tribune Media Services

     On a stupidity scale, a recent poll about doctors' earnings
is right up there.  It almost scored a perfect brain-dead 10.
     It  was  commissioned by some whiny consumers  group  called
Families USA.
      The  poll tells us that the majority of  Americans  believe
that doctors make too much money.
     The  pollsters  also asked what a fair income would  be  for
physicians.  Those polled said, oh, about $80,000 a year would be
     How generous.  How sporting.  How stupid.
     Why is this poll stupid?   Because it is based on resentment
and envy, two emotions that ran hot during the political campaign
and are still simmering.
     You could conduct the same kind of poll about any group that
earns $100,000-plus and get the same results.  Since the majority
of Americans don't make those bucks,  they assume that those  who
do are stealing it from them.
     Maybe  the Berlin Wall came down,  but don't  kid  yourself.  
Karl Marx lives.
     It's also stupid because it didn't ask key  questions,  such
as:  Do  you  know how much education and training  it  takes  to
become a physician?
     If those polled said no,  they didn't know, then they should
have  been disqualified.   If they gave the wrong  answers,  they
should have been dropped.   What good are their views on how much
a doctor should earn if they don't know what it takes to become a
     Or maybe a question should have been phrased this way:  "How
much  should  a person earn if he or she must (a)  get  excellent
grades and a fine educational foundation in high school in  order
to (b) be accepted by a good college and spend four years  taking
courses heavy in math, physics, chemistry, and other lab work and
maintain a 3.5 average or better,  and (c) spend four more  years
of  grinding study in medical school,  with the third and  fourth
years in clinical training,  working 80 to 100 hours a week,  and
(d) spend another year as a low-pay,  hard-work intern,  and  (e)
put  in  another  three to 10 years  of  post-graduate  training,
depending  on  your specialty and (f) maybe wind up  $100,000  in
debt  after  medical school and (g) then work an  average  of  60
hours  a week,  with many family doctors putting in 70  hours  or
more until they retire or fall over?"
     As  you have probably guessed by now,  I  have  considerably
more  respect for doctors than does the law firm of  Clinton  and
Clinton,  and all the lawyers and insurance executives they  have
called together to remake America's health care.
     Based  on what doctors contribute to society,  they are  far
more useful than the power-happy,  ego-tripping, program-spewing,
social tinkerers who will probably give us a medical plan that is
to health what Clinton's first budget is to frugality.
     But propaganda works.   And,  as the stupid poll  indicates,
many Americans wrongly believe that profiteering doctors are  the
major cause of high medical costs.
     Of  course doctors are well-compensated.   They  should  be.  
Americans now live longer than ever.   But who is responsible for
our longevity--lawyers,  Congress, or the guy flipping burgers in
a McDonald's?
     And the doctors prolong our lives despite our having  become
a  nation  of  self-indulgent,   lard-butted,   TV-gaping   couch
     Ah,  that  is not something you heard President  Clinton  or
Super  Spouse  talk  about during the  campaign  or  since.   But
instead of trying to turn the medical profession into a  villain,
they might have been more honest if they had said:
     "Let  us  talk  about medical care and one  of  the  biggest
problems we have.   That problem is you, my fellow American. Yes,
you,  eating  too much and eating the wrong foods;  many  of  you
guzzling  too  much hooch;  still puffing away at $2.50  a  pack;
getting  your daily exercise by lumbering from the fridge to  the
microwave to the couch; doing dope and bringing crack babies into
the  world;  filling  the big city emergency rooms  with  gunshot
victims;  engaging  in unsafe sex and catching a  deadly  disease
while blaming the world for not finding an instant cure.
     "You  and  your habits,  not the  doctors,  are  the  single
biggest  health  problem in this country.   If  anything,  it  is
amazing that the docs keep you alive as long as they do.
     "In fact,  I don't understand how they can stand looking  at
your blubbery bods all day.
     "So as your president,  I call upon you to stop whining  and
start living cleanly.   Now I must go get myself a triple cheesy-
greasy with double fries.  Do as I say, not as I do."
     But  for those who truly believe that doctors are  overpaid,
there is another solution: Don't use them.
     That's right.   You don't feel well?   Then try one of those
spine poppers,  needle twirlers, or have Rev. Bubba lay his hands
upon your head and declare you fit.
     Or  there is the do-it-yourself approach.   You  have  chest
pains?   Then sit in front of a mirror,  make a slit here, a slit
there, and pop in a couple of valves.
     You're  going to have a kid?   Why throw your money at  that
overpaid  sawbones so he can buy a better car and a bigger  house
than  you  will  ever  have  (while  paying  more  in  taxes  and
malpractice insurance than you will ever earn)?
     Just have the kid the old-fashioned way.   Squat and do  it.  
And if it survives,  you can go to the library and find a book on
how to give it its shots.
     By  the  way,  has  anyone  ever done a  poll  on  how  much
pollsters should earn?

Royko  is  a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for  Tribune  Media




Thu, 12 Oct 1995 08:38:53 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. HEALTH CARE QUARTERLY SPRING 1992: U.S. history of health care reform 1965-1992

2. Health Care 2000 - Workshop for Physicians and other health care professionals

3. Mexican Consulates Helping Immigrants in U.S. With Preventive Health Care, Referrals for Other Health Care Services

4. Attention: All Doctors and/or Health Care Professionals

5. Strep throat abroad / Cost of a doctor in Ireland / No health care

6. Doctor acquitted in health-care fraud case

7. Health Care: Let Doctors Do the Driving

8. ***Health Care Comedy: Top Signs Your Doctor Is Too Old***

9. Perceptions of Primary Care Physicians

10. Perceptions of Declining Health

11. Coordinating Care -- A Perilous Journey through the Health Care System

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