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How the Economy Is Affecting The Business of Elective Surgery

How the Economy Is Affecting The Business of Elective Surgery

From the Freakonomics Blog: Vasectomies Are Up, Lasik Is Down

By Daniel Hamermesh
Published: March 16, 2009
I asked my ophthalmologist on Friday how his business was doing in the recession, and he said it was stable. He noted, however, that his colleagues who specialize in Lasik surgery had seen a 60 percent drop in business.

Clearly, Lasik, which is not reimbursed by most insurance plans, is postponable in times when incomes drop; at least in the short run, it is a luxury good. Other medical procedures may even be inferior goods in the short run. A recent report on NBC noted that there has been a recent rise in vasectomies. Apparently some couples, fearing that their incomes may be permanently lower, wish to minimize the chances of having another child for whom it will be difficult to provide.

We know that plastic surgery is another luxury good. I wonder how one would classify still more medical procedures.

I guess we’ll have to get Dr. 90210 to do a guest post about how the boob job business is going–though I’m not sure these would be considered luxury goods by all of his patients, it might just be an employment requirement for the Las Vegas stripper contingent.

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