Some Questions About An Alternative World

by Don Boudreaux on July 24, 2006

in Health

Imagine a world in which anyone who wishes to practice medicine can do so legally — or, put differently, imagine a world in which people seeking medical care can buy it from anyone they choose.  What would be some features of that world?

Would persons not holding MDs be allowed to present themselves as MDs?  (I suspect not.  Common-law rules prevent such misrepresentation.)

Would persons holding MDs from the likes of SuperFast&Cheap Online University be indistinguishable, in the public’s eye, from persons holding MDs from the likes of Harvard University or Johns Hopkins University?  (I suspect not.  The importance of certifying the quality of medical degrees would rise in the absence of medical-licensing statutes.  And I’d bet that one of the ways that Harvard Medical School and other legitimate medical schools would compete against each other for quality students would be to offer their graduates services that certify to potential patients the legitimacy and quality of the degree held by each of their graduates.)

Would persons seeking medical care not seek out certification of the quality of the physicians they contemplate using?  (I suspect not.)

Would the number of quacks practicing medicine profitably rise?  (I suspect so, because some people have a demand for quackery.  Why should these people be prevented from buying quack "medicine" if that’s what they want?)


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