DOCTORS are among the most richly rewarded professionals in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that of the 15 highest-paid professions in the United States, all but two are in medicine or dentistry.*
Why, then, are we proposing to make medical school free?
Huge medical school debts — doctors now graduate owing more than $155,000 on average, and 86 percent have some debt — are why so many doctors shun primary care in favor of highly paid specialties, where there are incentives to give expensive treatments and order expensive tests, an important driver of rising health care costs.
*Editor Note: These figures are from a 2009 survey. Figures from the 2010 survey show that medical and dental professions now account for 14 of the 15 highest paid occupations (measured in terms of annual income):
|Occupational Title||Mean Annual Income|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons||214,120|
|Obstetricians and Gynecologists||210,340|
|Physicians and Surgeons, All Other||180,870|
|Family and General Practitioners||173,860|
|Dentists, All Other Specialists||162,190|