The United States of America is a capitalistic society. Capitalism did not exist for a long time, but instead, it came after the Renaissance period. It is an economic system, in which major and minor distribution or production companies can be owned privately (Williams). It is the opposite of socialism, in which companies come under the umbrella of public property. All the businesses ranging from transportation industries, bank institutions or even insurance corporations can all be owned privately. Every economic system has its positive impacts and negative impacts. A similar case is with capitalism, it has its pros and cons.
One of the main criticism done on the capitalistic system is, when people are given the right to run and own businesses, they get monopolized one way or the other. The private owners of various businesses have in their mind to make as much profit as possible. When someone has this thought process, it is at times, very difficult to see anything else except the profit and revenue. One of the problems that are on the mind of most of the people is the monopolization in the field of medicine. One of the highest paid and well-respected jobs all over the world, especially in America, is in the field of medicine. The doctors are highly paid professionals, and in America, the salaries of doctors are even higher than the salaries of doctors or physicians in different parts of the country. The critics of capitalism, and by extension, critics of American Medical Association, have raised the question that how the medical professionals are able to make a huge amount of money than any other professional person. For, if we take a look at history, at the start of the 20th century, doctors and physicians were not highly paid professionals, so how they have increased their salaries. One cannot make an argument that in the early 20th century, the demand for doctors was not that high as compared to recent years.
The medical treatments are expensive and people pay a great amount of money to the doctors. Some people cannot afford it and thus are unable to get the required treatment. All these problems are caused because of the monopolization in the medical field. The critics say that the way medical professionals have been able to do that is by restricting the entry of more doctors and physicians. The limitations and restrictions are achieved by forcing every doctor or physician to acquire a license to practice medicine. Without the license, no doctor or physician, no matter how good and capable they are, is not allowed to practice and it would be considered as an infringement of the law. Apart from establishing licenses to practice, there are not enough medical schools to accommodate a large number of students applying to get admission in medical. The competition has become increasingly tough as each passing day. The amount of people wanting to go into the medical field is becoming less and less because of the fierce competition. Most of the average students do not even bother to apply in medical schools, knowing they do not stand a chance. American Medical Association decides who is capable of gaining a license to practice and who is not. They would not increase the number of doctors and physician because it will affect them. The average client per doctor would start decreasing and the doctors, as well as the physicians, do not want that to happen.
The rule that only those doctors and physicians are allowed to practice who have license and permits issued by American Medical Association does not align with the ethical theories, such as Utilitarianism or the contractual theory of justice. The contractual theory of justice, proposed by John Rawls, says that the monopolization in any field is not acceptable to the extent that people are not happy with the system. Rawls gave his two principles, one of which states that the complete freedom should be given to every society member. And the second principle summarizes that the limitations and restrictions should only be allowed the worst person will have some benefit than he or she is receiving under the situation where people are given equal chance (Corlett). This theory is relevant in this case of licensing of doctors and physicians. There are the majority of people who are not satisfied with this current situation. Every doctor and license should be allowed to work and practice so that people who cannot afford the expensive and private treatment can receive care and treatment at a little less cost. Utilitarian theory is another ethical theory states that the happiness should be achieved by everyone to the maximum level. There are a lot of people not happy with the system proposed by American Medical Association. People, generally are not satisfied with this system. Even those people who can afford expensive treatments are of the opinion that there should be more doctors and physicians than there are right now. The utilitarian theory has its roots in the happiness of the maximum amount of people possible (Fryer).
Although both these theories give an insight into the problem and are relevant to it, there is one objection in both these theories regarding the licensing of every doctor and physician. The contractual theory of justice says that most of the members of the society should and must be given freedom and liberty, but there is a problem of people who would impersonate doctors and would fraud the innocent people. The people who do not know or are well-equipped to practice medicine would take advantage of the desperation of people. One way to answer this objection is that the theory does not necessarily say that all people should be given privilege. In this case, the people who have passed a degree or have some sort of certification in medical field from anywhere in the world should be given the right to practice, but as for the people, who do not have any background knowledge or certification of any kind from anywhere should not be allowed as it would do more harm than good. One objection on utilitarian theory is that the consequence of allowing everyone to practice will benefit the people on the whole or not. The greatest profit that maximum people will get by following utilitarian theory. The objection is by allowing every physician who does not have enough qualification, to practice. This will produce the greatest benefit for the doctors and physicians who do not have the permit to practice. The way to tackle this objection on the theory is that the greatest profit and benefit of the population is considered not only the people who do not have the license, are considered. This will bring about more benefit for the common people as they will have more choices of treatment and the cost would not be as high as it is right now.
There are many jobs and professions which allow people to have the license, for instance in law, one should have a license to practice law. There is nothing wrong with licensing but the method to obtain it, should not be tough as it is for the medical practices. The advantage of having a license is that it differentiates professional people from unprofessional ones, but the disadvantage is that the organizations then monopolize the profession. The capitalistic society allows people to own a business, but already established organization make deals with the government and make them pass legislation that will only benefit them and they will control the entire business in that field, as is the case with medical practices. It is the violation of free market principles. Licensure makes the market work more effectively for the people involved in it, not for everyone else. There is also a dark side to not restricting. In this way, everyone can sell medicines without the prescription and desperate people will buy them, without knowing what they are getting. Licensing protects people from making wrong decisions especially in the field of medicine because one wrong medicine can cost a person’s life and life of every single person is paramount. Friedman had criticized the American Medical Association by referring them as a trade union, mainly because they have made a method to get a license extremely tough for an average person so much so that people do not follow this profession anymore. But it can be argued that they are being more cautious because being a doctor is a huge responsibility. Doctors are responsible for people’s lives and if every average person is allowed that it would make matters more complicated. But then again, with the current system, people are not getting or cannot afford treatment at all.
The policy of having a license should not be completely removed but rather a middle way must be found. The process to induct medical students should be relatively easy than they are at the moment. The strict policy of licensure should be revised again. There should be more medical universities and if the admission in those universities become a less severe, then more people would start applying. One way to go about this matter is that the licensed professionals can practice but people who do not have licensed but they are capable of doing the task can work with the licensed doctors, under their supervision, so that more people can avail the services provided by the medical care system. After all, the human life is paramount.
Corlett, J.Angelo. Equality and Liberty: Analyzing Rawls and Nozick. Springer, 2016.
Fryer, Mick. “A Role for Ethics Theory in Speculative Business Ethics Teaching.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 138, no. 1, 2016, pp. 79–90.
Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. UNC Press Books, 2014.