Doctors' Salaries Are Getting Cut Because Hospitals Are Losing Money from Non-COVID-19 Patients

Cameron Beach's dad is an ER doctor who's been forced to take a pay cut because only patients with COVID-19 are coming to the hospital right now.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Apr. 6 2020, Updated 12:04 p.m. ET

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Source: iStock Photo / Twitter

One side effect we hadn't anticipated from the COVID-19 pandemic is a dearth of patients heading to the hospital for other reasons unrelated to the virus. People seem to be taking the "stay home" directive seriously, which is a good thing, and that's been freeing up hospital beds for the influx of COVID patients.

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However, some hospitals remain eerily empty. And because everything, including our healthcare, is for-profit in the United States, hospitals are losing money as we are facing the biggest health crisis in modern history and taking steps to patch up the hemorrhage, steps like cutting doctors' pay.

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That's right. It is the most essential time for healthcare workers to be able to do their jobs. They are quite literally putting their lives at risk on a daily basis.

And hospitals are answering by cutting their salaries because they're not making enough money anymore. It's beyond frustrating. It's unthinkable. It's cruel. And it's not just happening to Cameron's father. It's happening everywhere.

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Cameron's tweet was reposted on Reddit, where others shared similar stories. "I am a nurse practitioner working in an Urgent Care setting," one person wrote. 

"The number of patients we are seeing a day has significantly dropped because people are doing as they are told, and STAYING HOME!! Which is exactly what they should be doing. First, my company furloughed half of the employees, then decreased the salary of those remaining by 10 percent. 

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"Then froze any use of PTO for the next two months. All while we are testing for COVID 19 patients daily. Not to mention I have been using the same N95 mask and isolation gown for the last two weeks."

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We need medical workers — doctors, nurses, orderlies, paramedics, ambulance drivers, etc. — more than ever right now. They should be paid more for the incredible risk they're forced to take every day. 

Instead, hospitals are cutting their salaries to maintain profits. It's truly disgusting. I wouldn't be surprised if healthcare workers went on strike soon. They'd be totally justified in doing so. 

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COVID-19 has hit big cities hard these past few weeks, but soon, hospitals in more rural areas are going to feel the strain. It's almost like if we had universal healthcare, none of this would be happening. 

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It's also almost like the hospitals are the ones who need an influx of cash and resources right now as opposed to cruise lines and airlines, which have both received giant corporate bailouts. Hm. Food for thought.

This problem is unique to the United States, the only developed country without centralized healthcare. Eric Uhlmann, a Canadian, replied to Cameron's tweet: "As a Canadian, there is so much about the American healthcare system that I simply do not understand. 

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"The concept of a hospital having this power over physician salaries (and of being concerned with making money like this) is beyond weird to me." The thing that might be surprising to some is that it's also weird to Americans

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The U.S. healthcare system's first priority is not to provide healthcare, as it should be. It's to make money. And that this exactly the problem. People have been dying because of that disconnect, because so many who need healthcare simply can't afford it, and so many more will die during this pandemic because hospitals have to be more concerned with how much money they're making than saving lives.

We can only hope that this debacle serves as a wake-up call for Americans everywhere, and that in our next election (whenever that may be), we come out in droves to elect officials who will fight for Medicare for All and make sure that universal healthcare is finally achieved in this country.

The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit

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