Commentary

Why Is There So Much Unnecessary Care?


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For my laptop and other computer needs, I contract with a technical expert. If something goes wrong he fixes it. If I need to buy some software, he advise me on where to buy it and how to avoid unnecessary charges. He serves as an economic advisor as well as a technical advisor.

If something goes wrong with my iPhone, there are a dozen places in Dallas, Texas I can pop into for repairs—without an appointment and with very little waiting. I have never had a technical helper try to get me to buy expensive add-ons that I didn’t need.

There are services that will send a repair person to my condo for repairs. Nationwide there is a service called iHospital. The employees are called DiD doctors.

Yet, if something goes wrong with my body, the average wait to see a medical doctor in the United States is three weeks. In Boston, where we are told that they have universal coverage, the average wait is two months. Amazingly, one in five patients who enters a hospital emergency room leaves without ever seeing a doctor—because they get tired of waiting. And after we actually see doctors, we are learning that much of the care they order is unnecessary.

Here is my question: why can’t the market for medical care work the way the market for electronic services works?

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John C. Goodman is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, President of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research, and author of the widely acclaimed Independent books, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, and the award-winning, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and the National Journal, among other media, have called him the “Father of Health Savings Accounts.”


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