A Dermatologist is a medical doctor that treats a wide variety of conditions that affect the skin, hair and nails. As with any business there are many decisions that must be made by both the doctor and patients in a dermatological office. I have worked in a dermatologic office for about three years and have been a patient in the past. Having both been an employee and a patient, I have dealt with a lot of factors that influence both the supply and demand of dermatologic care.
The demand for dermatological care is relatively inelastic, people generally do not forgo care when they need it even when the price increases. However there are many different factors that can have an effect on demand. As with most things the marginal utility quickly decreases, most people don't need to go to a dermatologist once a month or even every six months.
One reason that demand in dermatology is relatively inelastic is insurance. The majority of patients we see carry some form of medical insurance usually purchased through their employer. Health insurance helps offset the cost of medical care although coverage varies greatly. Some insurance plans will have a deductible which is an agreed upon amount that the patient must pay before their insurance will pay. Patients with a high deductible are more likely to think twice about coming to the dermatologist for simple concerns. However when the patient comes in for their appointment they usually will only have to make a copayment which is generally between thirty and fifty dollars for a specialist(health). Having to only pay a small amount up front in order to be seen by the doctor makes the services more accessible to patients.
The different seasons can have an effect on demand. During summer months people generally wear less clothing which can reveal lesions that a dermatologist should examine that would have otherwise gone unnoticed covered by winter clothing. In winter months at least in Utah there tend to be a lot more rashes and eczema brought on by the dry cold air. Time of the year is also an important factor when dealing with insurance. Many patients have a deductible with their insurance which is most commonly at the end of the year. If a patient has met their deductible for the year they are more likely to use their insurance to see a doctor about something they may have been putting off for financial reasons.
The availability or lack of availability of substitutes in dermatology also has an impact on demand. One of the most common conditions a dermatologist treats in young people is acne. There are a lot of over the counter or homeopathic treatments which can work quite well for most cases of acne. Many people who suffer from acne will try and treat themselves with these substitutes first, only coming to a dermatologist if they are unsuccessful. However when treating skin cancer there really aren't any viable substitutes. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, about 3.5 million...