The Post's Protectionism Strikes Again: It Never Heard of Foreign Doctors

The Washington Post had a front page piece that presents as a problem the possibility that health care reform, by allowing more people to get care, will over-run doctors in rural areas who already have more patients than they can deal with. The piece suggests that changes in medical education, with more focus on primary care physicians, may help the problem down the road, but that for the next decade or so there could be a real crisis.

In fact, it would take much less time to remedy the situation if the United States would adopt free trade policies with respect to physicians' services. If the U.S. had a more open door policy for qualified doctors, we could fill any gap in the supply very quickly. It is also a very simple matter to construct a tax system on the earnings of foreign trained physicians, with the money used to reimburse the home country. This could allow foreign countries to train two or three physicians for everyone that works in the United States, ensuring that they benefit as well.

--Dean Baker

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