In recent weeks some medical insurance companies have decided that the treatment of male impotence with the new drug Viagra is worth covering under their pharmacy plans, although on a limited basis.
Yet some obstetrician-gynecologists we've talked with contrast this with the insurers' reluctance to cover female infertility treatments and, even more significantly, with their almost universal refusal to cover female contraception.
One obstetrician, writing in The New York Times, says Oxford Health Plan pays for six Viagra tablets a month for its patients. "However," Dr. Laurie Goldstein continues, "it has often refused to cover oral contraceptives for female patients, even when prescribed for the treatment of other medical problems like premature menopause, polycystic ovary disease or as a prophylaxis for women with a family history of ovarian cancer."
This is a paradox that seems impossible to justify. After all, impotence is not a life-threatening condition, but some unwanted pregnancies, certain uterine cancers and ovarian cancer certainly are. At the same time, though, no insurance company or employer should have to subsidize promiscuity by paying for elective birth control.