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ACOG Exposes Gender Bias of Viagra Coverage

An American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has accused health insurers that pay for Viagra but do not pay for women’s birth control of sex discrimination.

According to a USA Today article, many employee-sponsored health care plans cover or are planning to cover the cost of Viagra but deny compensation for non-reversible birth control for women. Approximately one half of fee-for-service health plans do not cover women’s birth control.

Birth control pills cost about $20 a month, while impotency drug Viagra costs $10 per pill (one pill is necessary for each sexual encounter). Pharmacy benefits consultant Mary Sevon told USA Today that most insurance firm health plans and HMOs have decided to pay for 6-12 impotence pills each month.

ACOG spokesperson Luella Klein said, “Pregnancy is a medical condition, just like impotence….and the cost benefit of preventing pregnancy is much greater than treating impotence.” In fact, Viagra may actually inflate women’s health care costs because it could potentially increase the number of unwanted pregnancies.

The Catholic Church predictably opposes coverage of birth control and supports coverage of Viagra. Deacon Frank Clark of the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia said, “This pill helps men do something they should be able to do normally but can’t because of a medical condition. Pregnancy isn’t a medical condition; it’s completely normal.”

The American College of Obstetricians will soon release a press statement calling for legislation that would compel insurers offering prescription drug benefits to cover FDA-approved birth control.

Sources:

USA Today - May 12, 1998