The Government is Spending HOW MUCH on Penis Pumps?

If you think twice before shelling out $10 on lube, you won’t believe what the government invests in Americans’ sex lives: Medicare spent $20.6 million on vacuum erection systems in 2011, according to a recently released report from the Office of the Inspector General.

Vacuum erection systems (a.k.a. penis pumps) are covered under Medicare because they’re prescribed by medical professionals to treat erectile dysfunction. Between 2006 and 2011, Medicare paid $172.4 million for 473,620 penis pumps (or about $365 per penis pump). These numbers may sound crazy, but since Obamacare guarantees maternity coverage, it’s only fair for the federal government to also cover health issues that disproportionately affect men—and nearly 70 percent of males 70 and older suffer from E.D. (Medicare guarantees health coverage to people 65 and older).

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What’s really disturbing here is less the number of pumps Medicare paid for and more the amount it paid for them: Not only did spending on penis pumps nearly double between 2006 and 2011, but the Office of the Inspector General report also found that Medicare has been paying more than twice as much for penis pumps as the Department of Veterans Affairs and regular consumers have been. So if you decided to buy one off of the Internet, you’d be getting a way better deal than the feds. All said and done, the federal government could have saved an average of about $14.4 million a year if it had been paying the correct price—and the people getting the pumps through Medicare would have saved about $3.6 million a year.

In response to these findings, the Office of the Inspector General is recommending that officials either establish a special payment limit on vacuum erection systems or that they make them part of Medicare’s national mail-order program, which is already in place to help Medicare get low rates on other medical devices. You think, guys?

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