Healthcare is expensive. We all know that. But why is the only cheap alternative to going to the doctor's not going? Having recently had to spend some time in dr.'s offices recently, I've noticed that the cost of doctors are all about the same, yet quality seems to vary widely. Why is this? How, in a free market, can you have good doctors and bad doctors* charging the same amount of money? I've been told several things: 1) The free market can't provide everythings, and so the government has to step in (which it is not) 2) Med school is pricey 3) Doctors need to spend a lot of money to make money (equipment, nice clothes, cars, big houses), so charge money 4) Lawsuits drive up the price, since doctors need lots of malpractice insurance 5) Almost 50% of money spent on healthcare is from the government, in the form of social security for old people, which makes healthcare that much more inefficient since providers are free of market effects 6) Most people buy insurance inefficiently, since it's paid for by their job, and they don't make the best choices for themselves, rather that their employer makes the best choice in buying insurance in bulk for themselves. Higher insurance prices result, and with the inflated cost of healthcare to begin with, insurance provided by the employer becomes necessary for most jobs to attract employees. 7) The licensing process isn't efficient- there's no room for cheap, crummy doctors. 1) Is obviously wrong. 2) Seems reasonable, but there are a lot of doctors out there, and a lot of med schools. How much is med school, opportunity costs included? This is surely a contributor to the cost. 3) The cost of equipment and the like seems reasonable, though I'd think I could go to a dr.'s that hasn't thrown tens of thousands of dollars at new gadgets, and thus charges less. Related to 5, I think, in that doctors are overly cautious, and need to cover their bases with technology. 4) This is most definitely a contributor, but then, dr.'s should also be responsible for sawing the wrong arm off or confusing their 1 oclock with their 3 oclock. 5) Almost half is a huge amount. Old people going to the dr. for every ache and pain (Fraggle_Rocker is known to do this), when they aren't paying for it, is easy to do. Of course, this increases the price for me directly (increasing demand), and indirectly, through having to pay social security (that I won't benefit from now, and won't benefit from later, since it'll be dead). This seems it would be a huge contributor to cost. 6) Likely a symptom of 5, since it doesn't seem reasonable for it to be occurring on its own if free market forces were operating, since it means everyone is behaving very inefficiently. 7) I'd like to see regulation of doctor's passed off to the private sector, so I could do a little price discrimination, you know? Anyway, your (socialist) thoughts? Tell me how I'm wrong, and we need the government to take over everything. *I recognize that laymen like me most often judge a dr.'s ability based on his bedside manner.