Pediatrics in America Part 1: Need a pediatrician?

If you want to make the big bux as a physician, you need to do procedures (e.g., endoscopies, colonoscopies, surgery). Among the most poorly compensated branches of medicine are pediatrics and geriatrics. And yet:

“Pediatricians attend the same medical schools as those who enter other specialties, and education is expensive. Almost half of those who graduated with over $150,000 in debt 20 years ago have still not paid if off completely. In 2020 the average debt of those completing pediatric residencies was $264,000.

“General pediatricians also train for the same three years of residency as physicians who treat adults, but they earn much less.”

Unsurprisingly, fewer graduates from U.S. medical schools choose pediatrics today than we’ve seen in decades.

What’s going on?

“A key reason is that so many children live in poverty and therefore qualify for Medicaid, which pays far less for care than private insurance and even less than Medicare.

“More than 37 million children receive coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This means pediatricians get reimbursed at much lower rates than those in other areas of medicine. Even pediatric subspecialists must deal with this reality. Medicaid isn’t any more generous when children have chronic conditions. That’s no small problem. Estimates suggest that 40 percent of American children have at least one chronic health condition.”

In short, follow the money. It’s the economics, stupid.

Pediatrician shortage?