NHL ticket costs more than cancer surgery
NHL ticket costs more than cancer surgery
Dr. Duchini, a breast surgeon, sometimes doesn't get paid. Still, she goes an extra step to comfort her patients, such as giving each one a teddy bear just before surgery.
Dr. Danielle Duchini
Breast Surgical Oncology
Erie, Pa.

I am a breast surgeon in private practice. Sometimes I do not get paid for months.

Most recently, my parents gave me $10,000 so I could make payroll. My father chipped in more money so that I could pay part of my malpractice insurance payment. But, there is a crisis within a crisis: breast care.

Western Pennsylvania is one of the lowest reimbursed areas in the nation. What makes things more difficult is that the reimbursements for breast services are lower than for other parts of the body.

Mammograms reimburse less than X-rays of other areas in the body even though they are more difficult and time consuming to read. Breast MRIs are even more under reimbursed compared to other body parts even though reading breast MRIs takes about an hour per study. Breast surgeries are reimbursed far less than other parts of the body.

I get paid substantially more to close incisions after moving tissue around to fill in the hole left from removing a breast cancer than I do for removing the cancer. The price of an NHL ticket my brother bought was more than I get to remove a breast cancer. The prices of milk, bread, gas, utilities, mortgages, insurance, all keep rising, and doctors' incomes keep getting cut.

A huge problem also arises when we need updated equipment and the hospital won't get it because "breast doesn't pay."


By Parija Kavilanz @CNNMoney - Last updated January 10 2012: 8:29 AM ET
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