In a remarkable article in the Wall Street Journal recently, Dr. Jonathan David - a board-certified gastroenterologist and a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine - exposed one of the most unremarked episodes of socialism ongoing in the American economy today: The cartelization of our doctor training system.
Dr. David wrote about a nefarious organization called "The Liaison Committee on Medical Education" which is "the accrediting agency" governing who can be accepted as a doctor today in America. It sounds like a peaceful and respectable organization, until you go to their website and discover this little sideshow:
"The members of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education are medical educators and administrators, practicing physicians, public members, and medical students. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association (AMA) each appoint six professional members. The AAMC and AMA each appoint one student member. The LCME itself appoints two public members, and a member is appointed to represent the CACMS."
In other words, the American Medical Association, a private sector cartel (the doctors cartel, in point of fact) along with America's medical "colleges" - that Dr. David lambastes in his Wall Street Journal article as bone-chillingly ridiculous and pointlessly expensive - are basically determining the number of doctors in America and through an immensely outdated system. Is this not bizarre, especially, since these groups are making us all pay more for doctor services than what they are actually worth? What's more, this was not historically how doctors were trained in America at all.
Indeed, compared to Europe, our medical education has devolved into being positively medieval. We are now really far behind. The European Union has a vastly quicker and cheaper system: You can become a licensed doctor in only three years, and according to studies our medical care is on-par with theirs.
The doctors in this country have so cartelized the system, it takes now takes seven years-plus for someone to become a doctor in America on average (and many medical students will say that it actually takes an absurd 11 to 15 years, including the residency period, where they are paid low wages). Furthermore, the doctors cartel is trying currently to limit access to doctors trained in the Caribbean medical schools (remember we invaded Grenada to save a bunch of American doctors in 1983).
Worse yet - despite our supply of doctors being artificially constrained (much like the diamond industry or thoroughbred horses, however both industries not essential to human existence), or our medical education system looks like six men holding shovels and one guy digging as compared to Europe and other countries, as well as the priceless criticisms from Professor Dr. David - our medical system engages in a veritable protectionist racket in terms of Medicare and Medicaid dollars (get away from free market capitalism and patients will pay more).
Why can taxpayers not use their Medicare dollars for medical services outside of the country - those dollars are theirs after all? Why instead of having to go to a less-than-brilliant American doctor for a basic surgery, can that same surgery not be approved at a hospital in Thailand or India for 90% less than U.S. cost, and - according to many reports - significant increases in competency?
Maybe the coup de grace is the fact that the U.S. doctors cartels is now trying to say that the MCAT test - a test all American doctors have to take but where there is no evidence in existence whatsoever that shows at all that performance on the MCAT correlates with competency as a doctor - has to by 2015 have a sociology component added to it. Why the MCAT needs a sociology component (I thought they were training to be doctors?), I'll never know, but it is utter madness what is going on and it is designed to further reduce doctor entry rates in America.
While America is angry at Obamacare for being the main component of rising healthcare costs, one of the larger cost drivers is the rising price of using an American doctor. If we do not dismantle the doctor’s cartel soon, it and ObamaCare will make good healthcare in America the preservation of the rich. We need to get this market opened up, pronto! And we need to heed Adam Smith's magnificent warning that "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation often ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary."
It's time to doctors cartel hears Adam Smith's words loud and clear.