Benjamin Rush Institute Exposes Medical Students to Free Market Medicine

Published December 10, 2019

The Heartland Institute, which publishes Health Care News, is a national research and educational policy organization focused on free-market solutions in all 50 states. Because worthy causes are never achieved single-handedly, we devote this space to share the good work of our allies in this effort.


The Benjamin Rush Institute (BRI) unites medical students, faculty, doctors, health care professionals, and others from across the political spectrum who believe free enterprise and a direct patient-doctor relationship are the best means of ensuring optimal patient outcomes at affordable prices.

Medical students are increasingly unprepared to meet the regulatory and policy challenges facing them upon graduation. Coupled with the mounting demands of medical school curricula, the majority of medical students will be exposed to fewer than 14 hours of health policy instruction, on average, according to a study by Harvard University. None of it is likely to be presented from a free-market perspective.

The academic and institutional resistance to the free-market, limited-government solutions promoted by BRI is almost universal, ranging from grudging resignation to an outright endorsement of increasing government encroachment into the practice of medicine. To combat the entrenched and growing environment of hostility and intimidation on campus, medical students need the support and intellectual ammunition that only BRI provides.

A medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine says breaking from conventional thinking can be a minefield: “Literally everyone I’ve spoken to who believes at all in the benefits of positive market forces is absolutely terrified to get involved.”

Pushing for Open Debate

By exposing medical students to models for the practice of medicine, such as Direct Primary Care and Direct Service Specialties, fee for service and cash practices, concierge medicine, and health care sharing ministries—practices that increase access to higher-quality care at greatly reduced costs—BRI energizes these emerging professionals with a positive, workable vision of patient-centered, doctor-focused care.

The testimonials of medical students and others like them document the impact of BRI programs and underscore why BRI’s work has never been more important.

“BRI is a breath of fresh air, especially considering the trite monopoly of opinion circulated by the administration of my medical school and the noisy minority of students who parrot these opinions,” said a student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine.

Combating Misinformation

To combat the misinformation and even disinformation about health care plans such as single-payer and to better inform students, faculty, and health care professionals about the perils of government-mandated health care, BRI launched the “Second Opinion Debate Series,” designed to expand the scope of public discourse on health care policy and the practice of medicine to include the principles of free enterprise and limited government. BRI plans to sponsor a national event in New York later this year and at least six additional Second Opinion campus debates during this academic year.

BRI events such as debates, lectures, panel discussions, and documentary film screenings emphasize how the essential role of the doctor-patient relationship—unencumbered by government—ensures optimal patient outcomes at affordable prices.

BRI is expanding rapidly across the country and internationally. Expecting 40 chapters by the end of 2020, more than a 30 percent increase over last year alone, BRI is looking for medical students eager to learn more about free market health care on their campuses.


Rebecca Kiessling ([email protected]is director of programs at the Benjamin Rush Institute.