Study Finds Medicare Overpays Millions for Erectile Dysfunction Devices, Still Doesn’t Cover Hearing Aids

1493076_10152160870247489_600970413_nPerhaps a few of you have heard of the government program called Medicare.  You know, the health care program for Americans 65 and older.

Well, a recent study concluded that Medicare grossly overpays (by millions) for vacuum erectile systems.

You know — “penis pumps.”

It’s amazing, Medicare covers vacuum erectile systems but doesn’t cover routine hearing aids that millions of Americans could use to drastically improve their quality of life.  Apparently the only way for hearing aids to be covered is if they’re medically needed, not just extremely helpful.  So if someone might not be considered clinically deaf but could use a hearing aid, they’re most likely stuck paying the full cost of the hearing device.

Whereas to get a “penis pump” all it basically takes is a doctor’s note saying a man has impotence.

See, apparently the vacuum erectile system is covered under Medicare’s Part B prosthetics benefits.

I’m sorry, but when I think of prosthetics I think of legs, arms — hell I even think of hearing aids.  I sure as hell don’t think “penis pump.”

Medicare Part B says that an item or service must be “reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury,” the inspector says. The systems qualify because “impotence is a failure of the body part for which the diagnosis, and frequently the treatment, requires medical expertise.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say a male (or multiple males) were behind approving penis aids under Medicare Part B’s prosthetics benefit.

Well, according to this study which looked at six years worth of Medicare records, it found that the government shelled out $172 million (473,260 claims) on vacuum erectile systems.

According to the inspector investigating this they found that what Medicare paid for the erection systems wound up being twice as much as those paid by non-Medicare patients.  If Medicare would adjust its rates to match the rates paid for by others (non-Medicare patients) it could save around $14 million annually.  Patients themselves could save nearly $4 million annually.

Basically, companies are ripping off Medicare by charging them more for vacuum erectile systems than they charge non-Medicare patients.

This is the kind of stuff that does drive me insane.  Companies that are blatantly ripping off programs like Medicare basically because they can.  It’s why I get so frustrated when Republicans keep trying to cut these programs, diluting the resources they used to combat fraud, then complaining about the inefficiencies found within the programs.

You don’t fight fraud by stripping funding from programs that help prevent it.  That makes absolutely no sense.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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