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Editor's Correspondence
Oct 22, 2012

Of Appendectomies, Markets, and Fictional Charges

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: The Geisel School of Medicine and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(19):1524-1525. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.4412

In the article “Health care as a ‘market good’?” Hsia et al1 found substantial variation in total hospital charges among 19 368 appendectomy patients in California. The article engendered angst and claims of evidence of market failure. But before impugning the market mechanism, it is important to understand 2 market realities found in capitalist systems, whether customers buy health services or an apple at the store.