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The costs of medicalization and disease-mongering

Nice job by Jeremy Cox in the Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville) highlighting overlapping issues of disease-mongering, medicalization and health care costs.


If Americans would stop thinking of certain problems in a medical context, experts argue, it might chip away at the more than $2 trillion the nation spends annually on health care. Furthermore, people would be healthier because they would avoid some of the problems caused by too much health care, such as hospital-acquired infections and bad drug interactions.

A provocative new study for the first time puts a dollar figure to all the treatments, pills and procedures Americans seek to cure their formerly non-medical ills: $77.1 billion, in 2005 dollars.

That total represents less than 4 percent of the annual medical spending tab, but it’s more than the country spends on heart disease, cancer and public-health campaigns, Peter Conrad, a sociologist at Brandeis University and the lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, said in an e-mail.

Kudos to Cox and his paper for making time and space for this. Newspapers could have a daily column on this topic. And I’d bet it’d be good for circulation!

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Ken Leebow

July 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Re: If Americans would stop thinking of certain problems in a medical context…
That’s great, however, when firms like Merck make a disease out of osteopenia and subsequently turn it into a multi-billion dollar business, we the consumer don’t stand a fighting chance.
It pays to be informed.
Ken Leebow