For many years, armchair pundits have claimed that men’s fascination with the automobile is symbolic. Well, it turns out that this wasn’t so far off the mark:
"The world's largest automaker, which lost $10.6 billion last year, is shelling out $17 million annually for impotence drugs such as Viagra and Cialis...GM, which provides health care for 1.1 million employees, retirees and dependents, is the world's largest private purchaser of Viagra."
In fairness, this was a concession hard-won by the workers’ union, which dictated that such lifestyle drugs be covered by their members’ insurance:
"Once you have these benefits, it's very difficult to take them away," said Jim Sanfilippo, president of AMC Inc., an industry consultancy in Detroit."
And, of course, an aging workforce also contributes to the demand:
“(G)iven the huge number of older GM workers who might need help to "keep the spark alive," the tab for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs isn't likely to go down soon.”
This challenge mirrors current health care insurance issues in general: how to keep costs in line while maintaining needed (or just desired) coverage. Whether we’re talking about Viagra, IVF, or birth control, lifestyle medications do impact the overall cost of health insurance, and seem like a reasonable place to start when we talk about medically unnecessary treatments.