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Health care and health insurance seem to be more in the spotlight in today’s political landscape. According to the Virginian-Pilot, Americans spend 17 percent of our economic production on medical care each year. This is more than any other nation in the world, and the money we spend on medical care is taking away from our ability to compete with many foreign nations that include medical care as a right of citizenship. Prescription medicine is a huge part of the problem.

While all recognize the amount of money spent on medical care is a problem, there is not as much consensus on a solution. Ideas range from the health care reform bill to reducing Medicare. In the midst of all the debate, there is one idea that has received noticeable support on both sides of the aisle, and that is letting Americans do what they do best — shop!

The idea is that if Americans consider costs as a factor when choosing health insurance, it will help drive the cost of health care down. While this process has worked well in the past, there may be a problem when it comes to its application to the health care industry: lack of information.

In the South Hampton Roads cities of Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake VA, doctors received $1.16 million dollars from pharmaceutical companies. A doctor who receives money from a pharmaceutical company may be more likely to prescribe that company’s drug instead of a drug that may work just as well but cost less. This is such an issue because the patient/consumer has probably never heard of the less expensive drug. The medical industry is anything but consumer-friendly with all of its regulations, but if the consumers are able to have access to the information needed, they can hopefully succeed in what our politicians, employers, and insurers have not, holding down the cost of medical care.

After receiving staggering amounts of money from pharmaceutical and drug companies, doctors often feel pressure to prescribe those companies’ drugs, and the drug companies may take priority over a patient’s need. When this happens and things go wrong, these patients may become clients. When it comes to medical treatment of yourself or a loved one, it is easy to wonder about the influence drug companies have on the treatment. Especially when you hear about the increase in adverse reactions to prescription drugs. If patients had full information about the risks and benefits, they might choose more wisely about medicines.

To learn more, read this FAQ about what to do if you suffer an adverse reaction to a prescribed drug.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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