Illinois state Rep. Mary Flowers (D) has introduced new legislation that would force insurance companies that cover prescriptions for Viagra to also cover prescriptions for oral contraceptives.
Many insurance companies cover at least a portion of Viagra’s cost, yet deny coverage of contraceptives that would actually lower medical costs through a reduction in costly unplanned pregnancies. Flowers charges that Viagra is “not medically necessary” while “the prevention of pregnancy can have health benefits for women,” and has accused insurance companies of unjust discrimination against women.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Association of HMOs denies that such policies are discriminatory, arguing that Viagra “treats a medical condition” and that “contraception is more of a therapeutic prescription.” The Catholic Conference of Illinois has joined the HMO association in opposition to the bill, arguing that “artificial birth control is inappropriate and mandating insurance coverage is something we would be opposed to.”
Illinois’ Governor, House Speaker, and Senate President have not yet indicated their position on Flowers’ legislation.