Doctors' salaries and incentives inflate healthcare spending, report finds

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While high drug costs and insurance companies are often blamed for the high medical costs, some economists are also pointing fingers at physicians. High salaries and incentives that drive up costs should be factored in, they say.

Doctors in the U.S. make two to three times as much as physicians in other industrialized nations, according to surveys conducted by medical practice management groups. U.S. physicians typically earn $200,000 to $300,000 a year. By contrast, their European counterparts earn approximately $60,000 to $120,000 a year, according to a survey conducted in 2004 by the British government.

Economists also point to the payment structure for doctors. Most U.S. physicians get paid for additional tests and procedures, which helps drive up costs and may lead to unnecessary care, according to economists quoted in a New York Times report.