Policy and research on health manpower regulation: never too late to deregulate?

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Abstract

Research on health manpower regulation has reached a consistent conclusion for the last two decades that is likely to carry into the 1990s: deregulate. Research has progressed in recent years, however, and research in the 1990s will be quite different from that of the past two decades. While the battle cry "never too late to deregulate" will continue to be heard, the "easy" targets, those markets with the least extensive or least important information asymmetry, have already been attacked. What is (or should be) finally emerging in the 1990s is a more challenging appraisal of health manpower regulation, one that recognizes greater complexity in health care markets and consumer preferences than has been recognized in past research. Lessons for the 1990s include the need to recognize, accept, and study information asymmetry and its consequences, and to more closely analyze the hypothesis that occupational interest groups, while meeting their self-interest, also may be serving the commonwealth. Such a reorientation leads us to ask different questions of regulation in future research, all directing attention to the informational attributes of markets: (1) How much information asymmetry exists in different health care markets, and how important is it? In which information-asymmetric markets is manpower regulation most likely to benefit consumers? (2) How can information asymmetry between consumers and providers be reduced, thereby facilitating deregulation? (3) How many regulations, of what type, are consumers willing to eliminate, for what benefits? Simplistic policy recommendations are less likely with this new orientation, and there is a great deal of interesting research awaiting health services researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-110
Number of pages32
JournalAdvances in health economics and health services research
Volume11
StatePublished - 1990

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