Friday, September 19, 2008

The Dangers of Medical Licensing

Dr. Shirley Svorny, professor of economics at California State University, Northridge, and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, has written a good position paper on the dangers of medical licensing. Here's an excerpt:
Medical Licensing: An Obstacle to Affordable, Quality Care

...One view is that state licensing of medical professionals assures quality. In contrast, I argue here that licensure not only fails to protect consumers from incompetent physicians, but, by raising barriers to entry, makes health care more expensive and less accessible.

...Consumers would benefit were states to eliminate professional licensing in medicine and leave education, credentialing, and scope-of-practice decisions entirely to the private sector and the courts.
She covers many of the same points that Alex Epstein of the Ayn Rand Institute mentioned in this short piece from September 14, 2007:
End Government Licensing

...The more complex the field, the more destructive coercive licensing is, because the more urgent it is that there be freedom of thought and action. In a vast, continually evolving field like medicine, in which a huge and growing range of medical procedures exists, each requiring different skill sets, it is absurd and incredibly costly to have the government reserving jobs for full-fledged MDs that could be done by other medical professionals, while giving an official stamp of approval to MDs who do jobs that they lack necessary specialized knowledge to do (such as general practitioners who prescribe complex psychiatric medications).

It may be funny when governments takes charge of licensing fortune tellers, but it is deadly when it is in charge of licensing doctors. We should abolish the government's coercive licensing power and unleash a free market of objective-standards bodies who function by persuasion, not compulsion.
(Via Brian Schwartz.)