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Also worth mentioning that the patient is usually poorly qualified to form an opinion on the quality of care or the level of care needed. For example, I can't tell if the radiologist did a terrific job interpreting the x-ray and therefore deserves a price premium. Or if the surgeon performing discount appendectomies is just as good as the higher the priced guy.

Although an individual patient cannot make such determinations independently, in this age of social media and quick access to information on the internet it isn't all that hard to figure out a doctor's reputation. There are specialized sites for this as well as simple yelp reviews. In any case, there are many situations where the typical consumer is at an informational disadvantage versus the provider of a service: auto repair and home remodeling are examples that immediately come to mind.
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