In a recent study, researchers at Harvard and MIT surveyed a random sample of doctors in the United States, asking them to write an honest statement about what they do for their patients, in order to receive a charitable deduction.
The results were published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
“The results are pretty encouraging, even for those who were skeptical about giving back,” said Dr. Eric Kuehn, a physician who studies charitable giving and health outcomes at Harvard Medical School and was not involved in the study.
“We found that more than half of doctors, at least, gave some money to their patients in their last year of practice.
We also found that most of the doctors we surveyed were in good financial health.
They were more likely to have more than $250,000 in savings, a lot of retirement savings, and to have a pension or an employer-provided retirement plan.”
In some cases, doctors also reported that they had given money to charities or other organizations that supported the health of their patients.
The survey also showed that doctors in wealthy countries are more likely than doctors in less wealthy countries to give back, the researchers said.
“This is good news for patients who are in high-deductible insurance plans, or those who live in rural areas or urban areas, who are on Medicaid or Medicare, or who are the elderly or people with disabilities, as well as for people with chronic conditions,” said lead author Dr. Matthew B. Cacioppo, a research scientist in the department of health policy and management at Harvard.
“If you can show that you can contribute to a lot less, you should probably get that deduction,” he said.
The study found that the average doctor in wealthy nations reported giving back about $3,400 a year, and the average in less affluent nations was about $2,400.
The average in the U.S. was $5,600, while the average was $2 of that amount in less-wealthy countries.
Doctors in the more wealthy countries reported giving about half of their incomes to charity, the study found.
The researchers found that doctors who gave away a great deal of their income to charity were more successful at getting their deductions, with about two-thirds of the deductions going to charities and other charities.
But, they noted, it’s important to remember that the money they gave away was not necessarily the most valuable.
“One thing to keep in mind is that doctors often receive financial support from their employer and government to do things that may not be worth it,” said study author Dr, Dr. Susan M. Hsieh, who is also a professor of sociology at Harvard University.
“When you think about it, the more charitable you are, the less likely you are to be in financial difficulty, so it’s not necessarily as though it’s bad to give money away,” she said.
One concern for those looking to give away a large portion of their paycheck is that they may be asked to report the amount of income they gave up, Dr Caciozza said.
But he also said that a large amount of doctors could just be giving away too much money to be able to justify deducting their expenses.
“Even if they are reporting it accurately, we don’t know if they’re actually going to use it in a meaningful way,” he added.
If a doctor does give away all their income, it can make it difficult to determine how much they actually paid out in charitable contributions.
“It’s not just how much you give, but also how much the government has contributed, and how much other people have contributed to it,” Dr Caffeo said.
If they’re donating to organizations that support the health or well-being of patients, they should report that in their annual financial disclosure, Dr Kueh said.
This is not the first study that found that people are more generous when they know they are getting a charitable contribution.
In 2014, the Center for Responsible Lending, an advocacy group for people who are giving to charity and other non-profits, analyzed the financial statements of 1,038 U.s. doctors and found that physicians with less than $1 million in annual income gave the least, while those with $10 million in income gave more than double that amount.
The authors of the study also looked at the incomes of doctors from a different study that looked at their salaries and how well they were performing.
The report showed that most doctors, in both wealthy and less-rich countries, reported paying their patients less than they would have in the absence of the deduction.
For instance, the average salary for those doctors who reported no charitable contributions in 2014 was about US$12,500, and those who reported more than one charity contributed about $23,000.
In contrast, the median salary for all doctors who were charitable donors was about 5.6 times higher, at about $120,000