“Recent years have witnessed a sharp upsurge of interest in the economics of health”(N Engl J Med 1968;279:190-5). In the spirit of transparency, “recent years” refers to the period around the start of Medicare. This statement was made by Victor Fuchs, Professor of Economics, at Stanford University in 1968 as he examined the growing demand for medical care. Textbooks on health economics typically begin with a discussion on the demand for health care, and despite different perspectives, economists and policymakers share a strong interest in understanding the factors behind the demand for health and medical care.

In this first issue of “The Curious Economist.”, I discuss the demand for medical care based on early and foundational health economics literature. I end with a brief discussion of the demand for anesthesia services.

In economics, demand refers to the willingness and ability to pay. It is the relationship between price...

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