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AMA to New York Times: Doctor Fees

Sept. 14, 2011(published)

New York Times
Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

"Doctor Fees Major Factor in Health Costs, Study Says" (news article, Sept. 8) cites a study that draws a questionable conclusion about health care spending in our nation.

A much more accurate comparison paints a different picture: spending on physician services accounts for only one in six health care dollars in the United States and is growing more slowly than other areas of health care spending.

Comparing spending on physician services in very different health care systems is not a useful way to draw conclusions about bending the health care cost curve in our nation. As the study states, salaries across many professions are higher in the United States than in other countries. Cutting costs alone should not be the only goal.

To achieve better value for our health care spending, we must modernize the health care delivery system and enact targeted reforms that improve care coordination.

Peter W. Carmel, MD
President, American Medical Association