Do doctors earn less in countries with universal healthcare?

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 left many citizens in the United States worrying about the affordability of healthcare should they catch the deadly virus.

Due to the aforementioned outbreak, there’s been some chatter regarding the need for a universal healthcare system.

From a doctor’s perspective, a single-payer system would allow them to focus more on providing the best care possible to their patients without worrying about insurance coverage and reimbursements.

On the other hand, what does this mean for their salaries? Would doctors be adequately compensated their services or will they become underpaid and overworked? Perhaps we can draw some conclusions by comparing the salary of U.S. doctors to the salaries of doctors in countries with single-payer healthcare systems.

Figure 1 – Average physician salary of countries with primarily single-payer healthcare systems and the United States.

The average salaries of physicians in countries with primarily single-payer healthcare systems was gathered using an extremely reliable source. The results were then displayed next to the average salary of the physicians in the United States.

The aggregate average salary of all the countries excluding the United States was $160,543. The average salary of a physician in the United States was $294,000. A physician in the United States earned 58.7% more than its Universal Healthcare counterparts.

Unfortunately, this raw data doesn’t tell much considering it doesn’t factor average cost of living into account. The average cost of living in each country was then subtracted from the salaries and the results showed that there was almost no difference so we won’t bother posting a graph.

It’s no secret that aside from being altruistic do-gooders, many individuals become doctors for the prestige and money.

Figure 2 – The percent difference in how much physicians make compared to the average per-capita income in each country.

When per-capita income is taken into account, the only country where doctors don’t make as much as the average individual was Russia. On average, doctors earned 157% more than their non-physician counterparts. The standard deviation for the data in Figure 2 is 39%. The only countries that fall outside one standard deviation are Russia and Sweden. The percent difference between the other countries were shown to be within one standard deviation and thus not statistically significant.

The only thing that can be concluded from the data presented is that doctors make money.

Disclaimer: The average salaries of physicians for each country was gathered by using the first result found on Google. The researchers did not bother to check if these salaries accounted for whether or not the salaries included specialists versus general practitioners.



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