A Re-importation Parable
By Arnold Kling
Edward Lotterman tells fellow Minnesotans a parable to try to help them understand drug re-importation.
The incomes of U.S. surgeons are substantially higher than those in any other country in the world.
U.S. hospitals could save consumers tons of money by flying in rotating squads of Brazilian and German surgeons to operate on U.S. patients at half or less of what U.S. surgeons charge.
Actually, the parable would be that U.S. surgeons would be sent overseas and subject to price controls, and then flown back to the U.S. to do surgery at price-controlled rates.
Steve Verdon has a further thought on price controls in medicine.
if you want to control for the dollar expenditures you can increase the opportunity costs. Triple the wait times. Will you want to go see the doctor when you think you have bronchitis if it means a 2.25 hour wait vs. a 3/4 hour wait?
It is important to remember that the United States is not necessarily close to a free market in health care. For example, you do not need a medical degree to be able to administer and read a test that will diagnose a child for strep throat. But in the U.S., only a licensed physician is allowed to write the prescription for the antibiotic treatment. These sorts of rules and laws serve to support the incomes of medical professionals while raising costs to consumers.
For Discussion. Do the requirements for licensing of medical professionals provide sufficient public benefits to justify the adverse effect that it has on the efficiency of health care delivery?