Policy initiated in the 1970s follows the contention that competitive forces do not work and new types of regulation are warranted. This article presents an expanded demand-supply theory introducing patient waiting time as a component of full price. Equilibrium is reached through adjustments in both fee levels and waiting time. Competitive markets require unequal fee levels among providers in the same community and differing provider-to-population ratios across communities.
The evidence from dentistry presented supports this expanded theory. Fees and waiting time are inversely related and full price is apparently insensitive to dentist density. Communities seeking higher fees and shorter waits attract more dentists per capita. Two additional studies cited further support this expanded approach. Patient waiting time is an important component of price.