They are underpaid.
We should redistribute money from the "rich" specialists and give it to the primary care doctors.
This is being proposed.
Here are some considerations:
#1) Medicare costs are derived from two locations, a doctors fee and a "technical fee." Some examples (estimates only):
A left heart catheterization:
Doctor fee: $270Open heart surgery:
Hospital fee: $1250
Doctor fee: $2000So, by all means, cut the specialists' portion of the fees to save costs, okay?
Hospital fee: $20,000
But there will be repercussions with reduced access to specialists. (Funny how we never hear about technical component cuts, but then again, they've got more lobbyists...)
#2) What happens when we pour in more primary care doctors (as is being proposed)?
More primary care doctors find more disease: good for specialists.
More primary care doctors that are paid better find primary care attractive stay in primary care: good for specialists.
More primary care doctors which cost more, both to primary care and to specialists: bad for sustainable model of health care delivery.
Unless, of course, people realize we'll have to eat our spinach and ration the care delivered.