Sunday, November 08, 2009

Comparing women to smokers...

One of the things that always amazed me was that health insurance companies will pay for Viagra and other male products designed to help a man have a sex life but the coverage is not equal when it comes to birth control. Let's look at the statement that's created some political outrage:

In promoting the House health bill, New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone made reference to discrimination by insurance companies, citing their reluctance to insure people with preexisting conditions and differences in costs based on gender. "But that's not against the law," Texas Republican Pete Sessions said.
Pallone replied, "No, but we would make it against the law. Why do you have a problem with that?" he asked. "Why should a woman pay more than a man?"
"Well, we're all different," Sessions explained. "Why should a smoker pay more," he said before getting interrupted by a burst of chatter throughout the room.

Let's first flash back to how long the Viagra versus Birth Control debate has been happening...1998 where in Viagra: A Tale of Two Pills it's stated:
Compare the erection-in-a-bottle with the basic contraceptive needs of all heterosexually active women who do not wish to become pregnant. While many health insurers are guaranteeing free or low-cost romps to men, they are by and large denying most women the contraceptive coverage that is a fundamental health care necessity for 20 - 30 years of their adult lives (the alternative being, on average, a potential 8 - 15 pregnancies in a woman’s lifetime). According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 33 million American women are in need of contraceptive services and supplies, yet most women using birth control pay for it themselves. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes that two-thirds of U.S. women of childbearing age rely on private, employer-related plans for their health coverage. While 90% of these health plans cover prescription drugs and devices, a large majority exclude prescription contraceptives from coverage. Only 33 percent of large group health plans cover the birth control pill. Other contraceptive methods are even less financially accessible. Is it any wonder that women of childbearing age pay 68% more in out-of-pocket medical expenses than their male counterparts?

Things have changed a little since 1998, 27 states have regulations that require health-insurance plans that cover prescription drugs provide equitable coverage for contraceptives, but it's far from equitable.

What about smokers? Interestingly enough, insurance companies will pay for smoker cessation products and programs, with more each year...Medicare does allow payment for physicians who provide counseling on smoking cessation and since 2006 they have included some smoking cessation products prescribed by physicians to be covered.

Medicaid does not cover family-planning services that promote fertility, which means in the states that cover birth control or family planning to prevent pregnancy and the places that will pay to help men get an erection and will pay for smoking cessation; if you can not conceive? Too bad...It is rather ironic that insurance companies will pay for an abortion, but many of them will not pay for fertility treatment. That's an inequity most people don't talk about...

1 comment:

Robin said...

Stuff like this just irritates me.

Birth control meds aren't always just for birth control.

I think part of the reason fertility treatment isn't usually covered by insurance is because it is so expensive.