Letter: Docs able to afford poor patients?

A doctor waits during surgery at Johns Hopkins

A doctor waits during surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. (June 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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I read the coverage of a recent survey of doctors in Newsday with great disappointment ["Could be hard to find doc," News, Dec. 2]. Nearly 28 percent of primary care physicians responding to a nationwide survey say they will not accept poor patients who gain insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act. It's very sad if this is how we perceive doctors. If the act turns out to be a bad idea, then it's the doctors' fault?

I provide excellent medical care, and I earn a good living, and I'm not ashamed of it. This is because my career started many years ago. I invested $120,000 of my own money, worked very hard to achieve a medical degree, then worked in a residency earning about one-fifth of what my business major colleagues were earning. I then worked 70-plus hours a week for 25 years. I pay 48 percent income tax on what I earn, with the promise of paying more in the years to come.

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My daughter is scheduled to enter medical school in September 2014, which will cost her at least twice what I paid. The chances are she will earn about one-quarter of what I do when she becomes a wage-earning doctor in 2022. The financial incentive to work long, hard hours will be removed by that time.

Will the enforcer of "affordable care" help repay her medical school loans, or even help her with tuition if she promises to enter a primary care practice? Will the insurance companies forego income?

The doctors will earn less, the hospitals will get less, the patients will get less and the insurers will continue to operate in the black.

For students, medicine is simply a bad investment. My friends from countries with a socialized medical system say they didn't mind the lower earnings because their education was free. If we don't better control the cost of a medical education, we will be short of doctors.

Pat Tafuro, Woodbury


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