Primary care physicians and specialists worried about changes in the health care market are streaming into salaried jobs with hospitals, almost certainly causing more expensive heathcare in the short run, according to The New York Times.

While health economists agree the U.S. should move away from the traditional system of fee-for-service payments, where private positions are paid for each procedure and test, the change from private practice to salaried jobs may not yield better or cheaper care for patients. The current system drives up the nation’s $2.7 trillion health care bill by rewarding overuse.

Many doctors on salary are offered bonuses tied to how much billing they generate, which could encourage physicians to order more X-rays and tests, according to Mark E. Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins, one of the nation’s leading physician placement firms. Tests formerly performed in a private office may now also cost far more because of an additional hospital “facility fee” that is tacked on.

Today, about 60 percent of family doctors and pediatricians, 50 percent of surgeons and 25 percent of surgical subspecialists — such as ophthalmologists and ear, nose and throat surgeons — are employees rather than independent, according to the American Medical Association.

“From the hospital end there’s a big feeding frenzy, a lot of bidding going on to bring in doctors,” said Robert Mechanic, an economist who studies health care at Brandeis University. “And physicians are going in so they don’t have to worry – there’s a lot of uncertainty about how health reform is going to play out.” Read the full article here:

Apprehensive, Many Doctors Shift to Jobs With Salaries

Many people assume the doctors they see at the hospital are employees of that hospital. This was usually not the case, but now is becoming more and more common. In the next five years, most doctors will be employed by hospitals. Whether this is good for patient care or the cost of that care remains to be seen.

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