This week, The Daily Mississippian published a column titled, “For the sake of doctors, say no to universal healthcare,” which criticized the possibility of universal healthcare in the United States.
Universal Health Care (UHC) is a system proven by almost every other first-world nation. America is unique in our archaic, profit-focused system, and I believe moving to a single-payer system is vital for the health of our nation. At the core of medicine is helping others, not a paycheck. A career in medicine is a career of dedicating one’s life in the service of helping patients and their families through the most difficult times in their lives. UHC would lead to patients having greater ease in seeking and receiving care and would lead to less administrative burnout on physicians, allowing them to focus more on patient care.
According to Medscape, the average overall physician salary was $313,000, with primary care receiving an average of $237,000 and specialists receiving $341,000. This data is from a self-report survey, representing 2% of U.S. physicians; actual income statistics are almost impossible to find.
The major physician shortage we have is for primary care physicians, not specialists. We’re having too many physicians choose to pursue the higher-paying but less-needed specialties due to the fact that they will receive higher financial compensation.
Physicians for a National Health Program goes into great detail about how physician salaries would actually not change with a single-payer system and would be better off overall thanks to the reduction in administrative hurdles put forth by the private insurers. The APHA published an article in 2011 on The Impact of Single-Payer Health Care on Physician Income in Canada and found that overall Canadian physicians ended up having faster income growth compared to other professions.
America is far behind other first-world countries in our healthcare statistics, and a large reason for this is financial barriers to seeking care. In the interest of my future patients, I support UHC.
Richard Easterling is a second-year medical student at UMMC and an alumnus of the University of Mississippi.