Underpayment is a primary care issue, not unique to female physicians

LETTER — Posted July 25, 2005

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Regarding "Women found more likely to burn out from practice stress" (Article, June 13): I thought this article brought up a very important problem in American medicine, and that is the underpayment for primary care physicians taking care of very complicated and/or elderly patients.

The problem is not unique to women -- it is a problem that is widespread both with male and female physicians.

The solution to the problem is not for male physicians to shift revenue over to female physicians.

The answer to this problem is to increase reimbursement for caring for complex and/or elderly patients.

Until that solution is found, this problem will get only worse as time goes on, as medical students are driven to procedurally dominated specialties, and as more and more primary care physicians either retire early, limit the number of more complex patients they have, or switch to more part-time practice.

The sad part of this is going to be that patients who do have complex medical problems will find it more difficult as the years go by to find a physician who will care for them.

Samuel W. Huot, MD, Rapid City, S.D.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/07/25/edlt0725.htm.

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