The high costs of health care may be linked to the high price tag attached to earning a medical degree, says a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine.
In a perspective piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine titled, “Are We in a Medical Education Bubble Market,” Professor David Asch, who is also the executive director of the Center for Health Care Innovation, says that if we aim to reduce the costs of health care, we need to reduce the costs of medical education. “We don’t have to believe that the high cost of medical education is what causes increases in health care costs in order to develop this sense of urgency,” Asch explained. “We just have to recognize that the high costs of medical education are sustainable only if we keep paying doctors a lot of money, and there are strong signs that we can’t or won’t.”
Asch’s article first presents evidence of his beliefs namely, data that may suggest that we are approaching such a collapse in primary care fields. But then he states that this scenario is probably not going to happen. He points out that for undergraduate medical education, students are charge a single price regardless of whether they will ultimately pursue family medicine or orthopedics.
However, he explains that “although it isn’t necessarily clear to students or schools which students will choose what fields, the income of the average doctor can sustain the debt of the average doctor even as the differences among specialties create pressures for primary care and psychiatry.” He concludes by stating: “The general lesson is that if we want to keep health care costs down and still have access to well-qualified physicians, we also need to keep the cost of creating those physicians down by changing the way that physicians are trained.