Thursday, January 29, 2009


Medical costs have risen faster than in inflation in the US on average for the past thirty years. Oddly enough, the total number of medical school graduates in 1976 (table 1) were 13,634. The total number in 2008 were 16,130. The number of graduates in 1976 was 218,035,000. In 2008 it was 303,824,640. While the American population grew by 85,789,640 (39%) and, even more importantly aged. The total number of new graduates increased by only 2,496 (18%). And most of that growth was in the mid-seventies.

Want to lower the cost of medical care, increase your odds of speaking with a real doctor and allow more people to be able to have a doctor? Increase the number of doctors. It's just a matter of supply and demand. No need for socialized medicine (a/k/a medical rationing) at all.

The AMA has traditionally argued that increasing the supply of doctors would lower medical skill. However, the AMA is a guild and has, at heart, the members interests first and foremost in their priorities. Fewer doctors mean higher fees.

Perhaps we shouldn't be listening to the AMA on the subject of supply and demand. Seems more like a job for an economist.



Perpetua said...

In this sentence, are these the total population numbers for the country rather than a percentage:
The percentage of graduates per population in 1976 was 218,035,000. In 2008 it was 303,824,640.

P.S> Maybe you would like this book from Stanford University Press by an economist about the supply of doctors:

Matthew said...

1. D'oh!

2. Thanks for the book referral. It's one of the books I've read recently.