Where Doctors Are Paid Too Little

Today’s Managing Health Care Costs Indicator is $900

That’s how much a Czech physician makes each month, NPR reported this weekend.  
 “Pay doctors more than a streetsweeper” reads the sign on a retired ambulance piloted by a doctor campaigning for better wages.  Czech Republic physicians can move to Germany or Austria and increase their wages by a factor of 5, while cutting their hours in half.

Physicians in the United States are on the average the best paid in the world, and that is part (but only part) of why health care costs here are so high.  See this post from last fall for more details. But paying doctors too little can lead to a terrible brain drain in a world where professional skills are transferrable across national boundaries.   The remaining physicians will have inadequate capacity to care for all Czech residents, which will lead to a decrease in the quality of care

Clearly, the Czech Republic pays its physicians too little.   That might look a way to save money, but it’s not likely to be effective at delivering high quality health care over the long run.