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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Protectionists are Worried About Doctor Shortages

The Protectionists are Worried About Doctor Shortages

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 14:32

Bloomberg had a lengthy article warning of looming doctor shortages in the years ahead. Remarkably the piece never once mentioned the possibility of bringing more foreign doctors in the country.

Doctors in the United States get paid on average close to twice as much as their counterparts in Canada, Germany and other wealthy countries. The gap between the pay of doctors in the United States and in the developing world is considerably larger. As a result, if we eliminated the barriers that made it difficult for foreign doctors who train to our standards from practicing in the United States, we could count on a large number of foreign physicians entering the country. (It would be a simple matter to have a modest tax on the earnings of foreign physicians in the United States that would be repatriated to their home countries. This could be used to educate more doctors, thereby ensuring that the home country benefited from this arrangement as well.)

We could also make it easier for people in the United States to get medical care elsewhere, for example by standardizing liability rules to ensure that patients will have recourse in the event of malpractice and also establishing governmental licensing agencies to ensure the quality of care in other countries. Also, Medicare could have enormous savings if it allowed beneficiaries to buy into the lower cost health care systems of other countries. Having more people getting medical care in other countries will reduce the demand for doctors in the United States.

[Thanks to Steve Hamlin for calling this one to my attention.]

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by James, October 24, 2012 3:12

The powerful such as AMA, .01%, NRA, pharma, Chamber of Commerce, etc., will always influence and shape the policy to their benefits to the detriment of the rest of us. This has happened since the dawn of civilization. The key is how much should the rest of us give up, not the case of any, but how much!
Three Rules For Protectionist Propagandists of Health Care
written by Last Mover, October 24, 2012 4:35
Rule one. Maintain a pr message of constant fear of shortages in the public mind in order to justify price increases, since any economist knows price increases are necessary to eliminate shortages.

Rule two. As prices increase, maintain a pr message that they reflect voluntary spending for improved health care, since any economist knows higher quality cost more that makes patients better off.

Rule three. Never allow rising prices to eliminate shortages or increase quality. Whenever these conditions appears to emerge, see rules one and two and repeat.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.