1 min read

Debunking the Physician Salary Myth

"Physician salaries are driving up healthcare costs" is a disingenuous way of saying physicians make a lot of money. It's just not true.

Here's how to end the debate. With hard data.


Starting in 1960, the National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA) has measured how much the U.S. spends on healthcare. Every year, they release their estimates, findings, and reports. Better yet, the aggregate data is publicly accessible.

I like graphs, so here is one.


A lot of money being spent on health. Sometimes, I find it hard to understand how much "one trillion" is. One statistic that always blows my mind is

One million seconds is 12 days; one trillion seconds is 31,709.8 years.

Costs are rising...

... but are they due to physician salaries? Instead of looking at the raw number of the "cost of physician services", it's more telling to look at the % of overall expenditure.

Physician and Clinical Services seems to not have any noticeable trend. However, Physician Services has seen a slow (but noticeable) decline in percentage of overall expenditure.

Find the Data

The data is provided by the NHEA to the public here. It's available in the "NHE Tables (ZIP)" download in "Table 02".

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