In my continuing crusade against the evils of occupational licensure, allies have been hard to come by. Most people take for granted the idea that licensing laws protect consumer welfare against unqualified professionals, and view any challenge to their legitimacy as some form of dangerous lunacy. This is particularly true in the medical profession. While the absurdity of requiring licenses for hair braiders or interior decorators may be relatively easy to convey, medical practice has such a high potential for danger that arguing for any reduction in regulations strikes people are reckless.
In a new working paper from the Mercatus institute, however, Edward Timmons joins the fray, demonstrating that many licensing restrictions on medical providers exist not to protect consumer welfare, but to limit competition among doctors, resulting in higher prices and less choice for consumers.