5 Health Care Myths Debunked

From antibiotics to insurance premiums … see if you know the truth behind these five common health care myths.

Health care is a topic that inflames passions. Everyone has an opinion on how to fix or improve the current system of medical care.

Unfortunately, we don’t always get the facts straight. Here’s a look at five common myths about health care and the truth behind them.

1. You need an antibiotic for every infection

Before we get to the topics that are bound to really upset some of you, let’s start with an easy myth to debunk. That myth is that antibiotics are must-haves for every infection.

You would think all the talk about superbugs would have made this myth fall by the wayside long ago. Alas, 2012 research conducted on behalf of The Pew Health Group found 36 percent of those surveyed believe antibiotics are somewhat or very effective against viral infections like the common cold.

They’re not.

What’s more, using an antibiotic for a viral infection can actually put you at increased risk for other infections.

Even for bacterial infections, which can be treated by an antibiotic, some recommend a wait-and-see approach before running to the doctor for a prescription. For example, one study showed 66 percent of children’s ear infections cleared up without an antibiotic. The study also found parental satisfaction was the same regardless of whether a child took an antibiotic, which implies that children are no more or less miserable regardless of whether they take a prescription.

Of course, I’m not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. But the takeaway here is that you might want to talk to your doctor about alternatives before demanding a prescription for every sniffle.

2. Doctors push vaccines because they’re major money-makers

I’m not even going to touch the debate about whether mandatory vaccines are a good idea. I’ll let you duke that out on your own.

However, there is one common myth that comes up time and time again in these arguments, and that is that health care professionals are getting rich by shooting kids full of immunizations.

Certainly, pharmaceutical companies seem to be making a pretty penny off vaccines, particularly newer ones like Gardasil. However, that doesn’t translate into big bucks for your doctor or health care clinic.

For instance, when Gardasil was introduced and selling for $120 a dose, some reports found insurance companies were reimbursing doctors as little as $2. Other research has found that administering vaccines actually costs money for a third of surveyed clinics. Finally, there’s this article from The New York Times, which outlines the extreme measures some physicians take to keep their vaccine supply stocked and ready for patients.

The bottom line is that while big pharma may be making money off vaccines, your family doctor is probably not reaping those same rewards. Instead of recommending vaccines because they’re a money-maker, they may be recommending them because they think they’re good medicine.

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