Why does this surprise anyone in the slightest?

Certain things in this world are just obvious. Demand rises the cheaper things become and if you make something free at the point of use then demand will be very high. Possibly even higher than you or anyone else is willing to pay for - for of course even things which are free at the point of use have to be paid for somehow.

So why this surprises anyone is unknown:

Millions of patients are putting unnecessary strain on the NHS by seeking medical help for minor complaints such as colds, insect bites and dandruff, according to a report.

Overloaded GP surgeries and A&E units are having to divert scarce resources into dealing with flu, sore backs and travel sickness, the Local Government Association said.

One of the functions of pricing is to actually ration access to such services. No, not to stop the poor from getting their due, but to stop those who don't need the services from blocking access to those who do.

Even the famously more liberal and socially democratic than we are Swedes have got this message. A visit to the equivalent of a GP costs money, real money. Not a lot, it is true, and there's a cap on the annual amount but enough to make people think about whether a sniffle best treated with a handkerchief is really worth some portion of an hour's time from a paid professional.

It works too - as anyone with even a passing knowledge of supply, demand and the role of prices in balancing them would know from the outset.

Sadly, we're ruled by those who don't know these things, aren't we? Or at least our health care is managed by those who don't.