7_Medicalization, Markets, and Consumers - Conrad and Leiter

7_Medicalization, Markets, and Consumers - Conrad and...

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MEDICALIZATION, MARKETS AND CONSUMERS Viagra was a factor in the diagnostic expan- sion of sexual dysfunction and the increased medicalization of sexual performance (cf. Conrad and Potter 2000). Prior to Viagra, med- ical treatment was largely limited to major dys- functions (e.g., as from prostate surgery). Now it included mild dysfunctions (e.g., occasional erectile problems) and could be used as an enhancement (Conrad and Potter 2004), offer- ing a "jump start" or extra strength for sexual encounters (Loe 2001). Viagra is not an inexpensive medication: It costs about $10 per pill. Within months of the FDA's approval of the drug, many large insur- ers (e.g., Kaiser Permanente and Aetna U.S. Healthcare) decided that they would not cover the drug, except at an extra cost to employers or individuals, while others did cover the drug (e.g., Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans in Indiana and California, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and the Defense Department's health plan). However, many insurers who currently cover the drug limit the number of pills per month. For example, Tufts Health Plan (2002) covers four tablets every 30 days, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (2003) covers
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