In yesterday’s post on fees for corrective eye surgery for Lasik (US) , I asserted that there were virtues to entrepreneurship in healthcare. Such entrepreneurship was – in my opinion – allowing either for a control of costs or even a slight reduction in prices. Since we have all been used to see the price of medical services increase in inflation-adjusted dollars, seeing a medical service whose price is dropping took some of my readers by surprise.
Since corrective eye surgery is one of the few lightly regulated medical act in the United States, there is room for medical entrepreneurs to improve the quality of their service (which is not reflected in my own data) and reduce prices in that particular sector. However, there is another medical area with little government regulation in the United States of either prices or practices : cosmetic surgery.
Widely perceived in television series like CSI or NipTuck as something for “rich” folk, cosmetic surgeries are nonetheless on the rise in the United States. Between 1997 and 2010, there has been a 155% increase in the number of cosmetic procedures. Yet, we can also observe a trend similar to corrective eye surgery (except hair transplantation) with regards to prices : they are either falling or staying stable (accounting for either medical inflation or all-items inflation). This new data set is available in my data set section and the graphic are illustrated below.
We must be left to wonder if this is caused by entrepreneurship and competition (as in all other sectors of the economy) or by something else?