Trend: Soaring Medical Bills Due to Specialists

Photo courtesy of Isafmedia via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Isafmedia via Flickr


I just read a NY Times article about how people are feeling gouged in the wallet by medical specialists. There are several reasons for the high cost of seeing these doctors. One is that specialists tend to charge way more (and get paid way more) than general practitioners. Another is that specialists will insist that they treat a problem that in reality could be taken care of more cheaply by a different doctor.

The article gives the heart wrenching example of a woman who was to have a tiny white spot on her cheek removed for fear it might be cancerous, and was unexpectedly charged thousands more than was necessary. Of the several specialists that billed her was a dermatologist, a profession that has grown wildly due to its high pay.

If you have a medical issue that you’ve been told requires a specialist, read this article first. It may help you make a more educated decision about the kind of treatment being advised.

From the article:

Ms. Little’s seemingly minor medical problem — she had the least dangerous form of skin cancer — racked up big bills because it involved three doctors from specialties that are among the highest compensated in medicine, and it was done on the grounds of a hospital.

Specialists earn an average of two and often four times as much as primary care physicians in the United States…

It does not matter if the procedure is big or small, learned in a decade of training or a weeklong course. In fact, minor procedures typically offer the best return on investment: A cardiac surgeon can perform only a couple of bypass operations a day, but other specialists can perform a dozen procedures in that time span.


4 thoughts on “Trend: Soaring Medical Bills Due to Specialists

    • Yes, the article mentions that specialists make more money than general practioners, so med students are heading for specialties. I don’t know what’s going to change that, other than offering gen. practioners more money, but who knows where the $ would come from? No one wants to see their medical bills go up.

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