Medical Inflation Made Simple
In Tuesday's New York Times, Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, M.D., explains medical inflation from his perspective in real terms:
Not long ago, I visited a friend — a cardiologist in his late 30s — at his office on Long Island to ask him about imaging in private practices.
“When I started in practice, I wanted to do the right thing,” he told me matter-of-factly. “A young woman would come in with palpitations. I’d tell her she was fine. But then I realized that she’d just go down the street to another physician and he’d order all the tests anyway: echocardiogram, stress test, Holter monitor — stuff she didn’t really need. Then she’d go around and tell her friends what a great doctor — a thorough doctor — the other cardiologist was.
“I tried to practice ethical medicine, but it didn’t help. It didn’t pay, both from a financial and a reputation standpoint.”
His nuclear imaging camera was in an adjoining “procedure” room. He broke down the monthly costs for me: camera lease, $4,500; treadmill lease, $400; office space, $1,000; technician fee, $1,800; nurse fee, $1,000; and miscellaneous expenses of $200.
“Now say I get on average $850 per nuclear stress test,” he said. “Then I have to do at least 10 stress tests a month just to cover the costs, no profit going into my pocket.” “So,” I said, “there’s pressure on you to do more than 10 stress tests a month, whether your patients need it or not.” He shrugged and said, “That is what I have to do to break even.”