The recent debate in the media over whether or not Viagra has the same status for health insurance purposes as the birth control pill is an interesting one. The real question to ask is whether the pill is actually needed for medicating a treatable condition. The very fact that the question has arisen gives pause to examine another type of debate, which is actually fundamental to our vision of the human person.
When Viagra came on the scene ten years ago, the alleged physical condition for which the pill would be used as treatment was something known as erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, which is a condition that does affect a large number of men. The medication became controversial not so much because it existed but because the television ads were offensive to certain groups of people. Be that as it may, the medicine has a role to play in the treatment of men according to many medical professionals.
So how does this pill, which is a valid medical treatment, compare to the birth control pill, which does not treat a disease or medical condition?
Why should they have equal status when it comes to what health insurance coverage should provide?
Well, I cannot think of a comparison, and I am now compelled to tell you why.
When the birth control pill was first conceived in the mind of Dr. Gregory Pincus, an endocrinologist, the primary goal was to find some type of chemical that would inhibit the onset of pregnancy. That way, men and women would be free of the worry associated with the possibility of procreating a child and then having to accept responsibility for raising that child. Or, as one biographical sketch of Pincus states, "By creating the first practical oral contraceptive, the birth control pill, in the 1950s, Gregory Pincus brought privacy and convenience to women worldwide."
While the current debate would deny it, the fundamental fact is that indeed the pill was never devised to assist anyone in treating a disease or malfunction of the human body, but rather was created specifically to solve the perceived social problem of pregnancy by preventing it. Or, to put it another way, the pill was and is a recreational drug.
Sadly, in the intervening 50 years, the pill has been through a number of public relations campaigns and the vast majority of the American public views it as a necessity today. Any citizen would be hard-pressed to tell you precisely why pregnancy has become classified as a medical condition similar to cancer or typhoid.
Obviously that is not what the pill is all about; it has never been a treatment but rather a marketable entity designed to guarantee freedom of sexual license without accountability. Or, as the Pincus biographical sketch opines, "The cultural impact of the pill is wide-reaching, allowing women the liberty of choosing a method of birth control that can be administered in the privacy of their own homes."
So when a debate ensues that centers on the reasons why health insurance should cover both Viagra and the birth control pill, the obvious response is that the pill does not qualify as a legitimate treatment for an ailment and therefore should not be covered by health insurance.
Viagra may treat impotence and thus help the sufferer recover bodily health.
The pill will possibly prevent a female from getting pregnant, will not protect her from acquiring sexually transmitted disease, could contribute to her suffering from myriad health problems including cancer and heart disease and is generally an artificial pollutant of the human body.
In conclusion, it should be obvious that a company interested in insuring the continued health of an individual would never provide the means for that person to ingest a chemical that could make her sick and might kill a baby.
It is a no brainer – health insurance is all about preserving health and restoring health, not destroying it.