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Where will your healthcare provider be when you need him the most?

An article in yesterday’s USA Today reports on a recent survey of health care providers. The study asked them whether or not they would report to work in a flu pandemic. Nearly half said they would be no-shows.

If there is one thing economists have learned, it is that what people say and what they do are often not the same. And the way words and actions diverge is easy to predict. I am much more likely to tell a survey-giver that I will show up at the ER in the next pandemic than I am to actually be there. With that in mind, the problem of health-care providers playing hooky is certain to be worse than even this study suggests.

(And, for the record, if you are a student in my class and a bird flu pandemic hits, class is cancelled.)