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The Sociological Character of Health-Care Markets
The sociological character of health-care markets
Introduction

While doctors have been competing amongst themselves and with other providers for centuries over technique, turf, patients, and the organization of work (Abbott 1988; Albrecht 1992: Ch. 6), price competition is a new, largely American, phenomenon that has been aggressively exported and selectively adopted by a number of other countries. Economic arguments have had a dominant influence on health-care policy internationally, but I will argue in this chapter that they do not explain the actual workings of health-care markets, which are described better by sociological studies.

Economic competition and markets in health care, as observed in a review 10 years ago (Light 1989), embody a paradigm shift from the professional dominance that prevailed in most ...

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