5.27.2009

Can I See a Nurse?

Coyote Blog has a post up that discusses the effect that over-licensing has on health care costs. He asks:
Why does a person need to go to school and residency for a decade to put three stitches in a kid’s cut? Why do I have to go to a full dentist’s office to get my teeth cleaned? Why does someone have to go to school for years to tell me my contact lens strength needs to be incremented by another 0.5, when I already knew that and could have just ordered them myself? The reason is licensing, and it both increases prices by limiting the number of providers and by forcing me to see someone who is often wildly overqualified to handle my problem.
This problem is occurring in Texas. Retail health clinics, like those found at some Walgreens, are a great way to receive timely, low cost treatment from a capable nurse for minor maladies. However, Texas has very few of them, because Texas law requires physician supervision of these clinics. A bill to loosen these restrictions was killed, thanks to Texas doctors. This is especially bad because Texas needs these clinics:
The clinics would represent real health care reform, especially in Texas. Most of the state, 179 counties out of 254, is classified as medically underserved. Among them are 45 metropolitan counties, including Bexar.
This is doubly aggravating because Texas is supposed to be a conservative state. This would have been a common sense, free market reform to improve health care, but the Legislature said no. Actions like this will further convince people that there is no alternative to government-run health care, when in fact there are a number of them. Ridiculous.

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