This introductory chapter presents three stories of contemporary patients in the United States, France, and Japan to illustrate why patients and the public should worry about the issue of physician payment. Conflicts of interest are endemic in private practice in these countries which have very different medical, legal, and political systems. Yet there are also big differences among these countries in the extent and kind of conflicts of interest that exist in private practice, the measures used to cope with them, and the alternatives to private practice that are available. Each country's laws, insurance, and medical institutions shape medical practice; and within each country, different forms of practice affect clinical choices.
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