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Letters to the Editor: Don’t blame doctor pay for the high cost of U.S. healthcare

A woman in protective gear speaks to others inside a hospital.
A physician speaks to staff at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Like many who blame doctors’ and dentists’ salaries for the high cost of U.S. healthcare, columnist David Lazarus ignores some important facts.

First, according to multiple sources, doctors’ salaries account for only about 8% of U.S. healthcare costs. Even a 40% cut in these salaries, which the Kaiser Family Foundation concluded would result from reimbursing providers at current Medicare rates, would reduce healthcare spending by only about 3%.

Second, while Lazarus accurately notes that average salaries for dentists and doctors are about 25% higher in the U.S. than in France and Japan, in these countries medical school tuition is also much lower than in the U.S., where many medical and dental graduates start practice deeply in debt. Furthermore, medical malpractice insurance rates in the U.S. are the highest in the world.

Unless Lazarus wants fewer bright college graduates opting for careers in medicine or dentistry, he should consider these facts.

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Mark Haas, M.D., Sherman Oaks


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