According to the pharmacy heuristic, which I now vow to follow, the first place you should go to resolve your health problems is not the doctor's office, but the pharmacy. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much pharmacies have done for me relative to doctors. I used to have chronic allergies; now I take Benadryl, and I'm virtually sniffle-free. Athlete's foot? Pharmacies have creams that work, and quickly. Ear aches? Basic ear drops are a huge help.
In an ideal world, of course, a doctor would guide you to the items in the pharmacy of greatest value to you. But few of them do. My podiatrist didn't have a word of advice about the optimal orthotic for my problem, or even a menu of orthotics in his office for his patients to try. (Is it better like this? Or like this?) That's why the next time I need some help, I'm going straight to the pharmacy. And if you feel the need to give paternalistic advice to a friend in ill-health, don't just say, "You should see a doctor." Perhaps you would be a better friend to chide, "You should go to the pharmacy."
Read the whole thing and find out how Dr. Caplan got $100,000 of consumer surplus for only five bucks!