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Who makes more: U.S. or foreign docs?

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Bill Radke: After a long wait, the Senate Finance Committee could actually vote this week
on a health-care bill. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office said the latest bill is not only budget-neutral, it would actually reduce the federal deficit. The cost of health care is the subject of today’s Marketplace Globalist Quiz, with our quizmaster Stephan Richter of Good morning, Stephan.

Stephan Richter: Good morning Bill. Are you ready?

Radke: Let’s do it!

Richter: All right, you know that Congress is having to wrangle a lot over the details of health-care reform, which is a key priority for this fall and it’s all about lowering costs, or so one would hope.

Radke: Yes.

Richter: So I’m going to ask you this: How much do American doctors earn in comparison to other doctors in rich countries? Is it about the same? Are American doctors earning twice as much as those in other countries? Four times as much? Or let’s say, 10 percent less, which would of course be good news.

Radke: That’s not good news for doctors.

Richter: But for all of us consumers — and there are a few more of those — and ultimately we spend so much on health care that something’s got to give, one would hope.

Radke: Let’s see, we hear so much about the cost of medical care, all the high-tech testing we do. I say American doctors earn four times as much as anyone else.

Richter: Actually it’s twice as much. And that is compared to countries like Switzerland and France, other sort of very rich countries. There the specialists make, on average, $130,000-150,000 a year. In the U.S., the average specialist gets $230,000. That’s quite a lot of dough.

Radke: And for some perspective here, Stephan, do you know how much American doctors make compared to their patients?

Richter: Yes, and there your original guess of four times is almost on target. U.S. doctors make about five times more than their patients — that is their specialists, of course, which are the ones that really put us out of whack with regards to our health-care costs across the nation. General practitioners, which are in short supply according to many people, are quite underpaid are in line with global averages so there’s not much of a need for reform on that particular front.

Radke: OK Stephan, thank you. Can I put my shirt on now?

Richter: Please do.

Radke: Stephan Richter is publisher and editor-in-chief of — the daily online magazine on the global economy, politics and culture. Thanks.

Richter: Always a pleasure to be with you.

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