Why Catholic Groups’ Health Plans Say No To Contraceptives, Yes To Viagra: Shots

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Covered? Usually.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images


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Joe Raedle / Getty Images

If health insurance plans offered by Catholic sponsored entities refuse to cover contraceptives for women due to religious moral teachings prohibiting artificial birth control, do they cover Viagra for men?

I have received several emails asking this question after my recent report on the Obama administration’s change on a rule making contraceptive coverage mandatory. After the change, the administration would allow hospitals, universities and charities sponsored by religious groups to opt out of birth control coverage if institutional insurance companies offer it instead.

The answer on Viagra coverage is generally yes, Catholic leaders say. And they argue that it is neither hypocritical nor sexist.

Procreation is something the Catholic Church encourages. And Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs can help.

However, Richard Doerflinger of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells me that many Catholic health plans now add warnings that such drugs “should be prescribed for a medically identifiable problem in order to avoid widespread abuse.”

Vasectomies, on the other hand, are prohibited by Catholic Medicare. “We have the same objection to male sterilization as to the female variety,” Doerflinger says.

By the way, the Catholic Bishops‘ Group initially suggested they might agree to the revised birth control policy proposed by President Obama on Friday. However, the bishops have since decided that he is not acceptable after all.


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