The political flap over the Obama Administration decision to require health insurance companies to cover birth control as preventative care continues apace, even after former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) declared it “a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” and his top donor Foster Friess suggested women just “put [an aspirin] between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
The fact of the matter is that health insurance covers all manner of “things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” when it comes to men, and no one has any real complaints about insurance coverage that allows men to continue having sex for non-procreative reasons and despite medical conditions that would otherwise prevent it. Most of them are actually far more expensive than hormonal birth control or intrauterine devices, the two methods of contraception that House and Senate Republicans now want all employers to be able to prevent their insurance companies from covering in employee health insurance packages. Five things that health insurers — including, in some cases, the federal government — currently cover for men’s reproductive tracts.
1. Erectile dysfunction drugs
From Viagra to Cialis, if a man has trouble getting or maintaining an erection (a common occurrence with age or with certain diseases), a pharmaceutical company has a $15 pill for that. And, in many cases, the man’s insurance company picks up the tab.
2. Vacuum erection devices
Famously covered by Medicare (as well as some private insurance companies), men with erectile dysfunction that won’t or can’t go the pill route do have a another option. Though it first raised eyebrows in Austin Powers and is better known as a masturbatory aide, vacuum erection devices do work as advertised by will cost insurance companies $300-$500 a pop.
3. Penile implants
If a man’s erectile dysfunction can’t be mitigated with pharmaceuticals or vacuum devices, there’s yet another method insurance companies will pay for afflicted men to try: penile implants. Though most urologists tend to use more modern inflatable models, which require users to manually inflate their own erections, some urologists hew to the older semi-rigid models despite their potential complications. Either way, the $10,000-$20,000 cost of the implants is often covered by insurance, particularly if the erectile dysfunction is the result of a disease or a side effect of surgery.
Non-permanent male birth control options are still limited to condoms, the Vatican-approved rhythm method and the Biblically-condemned pull-out method. But for those men absolutely convinced their child-bearing days should come to an end before their intercourse-having days, a $500-$1,000 vasectomy is usually covered by their insurance. (Notably, most insurance plans do not cover a $6,000-$15,000 vasectomy reversal.)
Though circumcision is the subject of much debate in the United States, it is not considered a medically necessary procedure in most cases. Nonetheless, most private insurers cover circumcisions for newborns (which can cost about $100 out-of-pocket) and a few companies cover adult circumcision, which is significantly more expensive.