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Despite the wide reach of medical licensing in health care production through its impact on the nature and cost of care, it has been all but ignored in debates over health care reform. This paper pulls together statements made by economists whose expertise is in the area of health economics or, more specifically, medical licensure and discipline. Economists who have examined the market for physician services in the United States generally view state licensing as a means by which to enforce cartel-like restrictions on entry that benefit physicians at the expense of consumers. Medical licensing is seen as a constraint on the efficient combination of inputs, a drag on innovations in health care and medical education, and a significant barrier to effective, cost efficient health care.
Podcast related to this article: Shirley Svorny on Medical Licensing (EJW Audio, March 2011).