Medicare Paying 36 Million a Year in Penis Pumps

It’s shocking how much we’re spending on penis pumps through Medicare.

Medicare spending on penis pumps has skyrocketed over 500 percent. In 2000, we spent $7.2 million — last year, $36 million!

What’s worse is that each of these “male vacuum erection systems” costs about $338 dollars on average. So our hard-earned tax money is only buying about 98,000 of devices. The systems work by placing a tube over the penis, and a pump is used to remove air from the tube. The vacuum that is created draws blood into the penis, a tension ring is used to sustain the erection, and then the tube is removed.

Although it might sound ridiculous, the pumps were found to be effective during clinical trials in the 1980’s.

Political Changes in Viagra Coverage
The penis pumps gained in popularity after 2007, when Medicare officials ruled that Viagra and other “lifestyle drugs” weren’t medically necessary and stopped covering them.

Ever since then, the aging baby-boomer generation has been looking for alternatives, and pumps have been a natural choice. There has been some controversy, however, because the price of Medicare reimbursement far exceeds the usual price of these pumps at stores, which is usually under $100.

Fraud Problems to Boot
On top of the ridiculously high prices for these products, there’s also the added fact that penis pump sales have become a hotspot for fraud activity in the Medicare industry.

In one of the most recent fraud cases, an Illinois man named Gary Winner who ran “Planned Eldercare” was sentenced to more than three years in prison for shipping penis pumps to diabetes patients who did not order them. He then billed Medicare $284 for each device, even though he’d bought them for $26 a pop from a sex shop. Over the course of 4 years, he cost the insurance plan over $2.2 million dollars.

Fraud is burdening our healthcare system.
But Winner’s case isn’t the only example. Post-T-Vac, one of the leading supposedly reputable penis pump manufacturers, has been sent a request to refund the government over $4.2 million. The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services filed a report saying that Post-T-Vac “failed to comply with Medicare document requirements for half of the sampled claims.” Post-T-Vac issued a reply to the Washington Times saying they disagreed with the report.

Unfortunately, the penis pump issues are only representative of larger problems that need to be addressed with Medicare. A recent fraud bust in May uncovered scams that were costing Medicare $452 million. The fraud operation was the largest in Medicare history.

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