Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Market for Dentists:
Canada vs. the UK

One of the points often made about the disastrous decline in the quality of the Canadian health care system is that we never have to wait to see a dentist, and we have excellent dental care available for those who are willing and able to pay for it.

Actually, that's not quite right. If we want a regular check-up with a dentist, we often have to make an appointment several months in advance, so it is not as if there's a massive excess quantity supplied of dental services at current prices.

Nevertheless, the market for dental services seems to work a whole lot better in Canada than the market for health care services. The reason is that, aside from private insurance and serious entry restrictions, for the most part the market for dental services is fairly competitive. The major distortions occur because of private insurance and because of contrived shortages created by limits on enrolment in dental schools.

The contrast between dental and medical services in Canada stands out in comparison with the lack of contrast between the two in the UK, where both are under the national health system. From Stephen Ayer at A Disinterested Party.

Valerie Holsworth, 65, who confronted the Prime Minister during a live television broadcast with a graphic account of how she had pulled out seven of her teeth - some with her husband’s pliers - spoke out after it emerged that only one of four dentists recruited to work in North Yorkshire, a black spot for NHS dental treatment, had been given a full-time position. The remaining three spent two months on “gardening leave”, during which time they were paid their full £48,000-a-year salaries, before being given limited work.

Holsworth lives in Scarborough, where last year 300 people lined up at dawn to register when a new National Health Service dental practice opened for business.

Socialized medicine and socialize dental care: two bad ideas that lead to reduced quality and increased waiting periods. What's worse is that the uniform standard of care means that even the poor are worse off than they would be if the market were allowed to work.

As I was corresponding with Stephen Ayer about this topic, I was reminded, fondly, of the the song "Montana" by Frank Zappa in the classic album, Overnight Sensation, which I acknowledged in print as having been very helpful in one of my early publications.

Well I might be movin' to Montana soon
Just to raise me up a crop of dental floss.
Raising it up; waxing it down.
In a little white box that I can sell uptown.
By myself, I wouldn't have no boss,
But I'd be raising my lonely dental floss.

Who Links Here