Health

The Government Is Severely Overpaying For Penis Pumps

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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The government is paying a lot of money for penis pumps.

A new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services reveals that Medicare spent over $175 million on vacuum erection systems -- also known as penis pumps -- from 2006-2011.

The fact that a government health program is spending money on penis pumps isn’t surprising. What is, however, is how much the government is spending on them.

For most medical goods, Human Health Services (HHS) uses a competitive bidding system that helps keep prices competitive. They don’t use this system for penis pumps. Instead, health officials use a formula based on current and historical prices of penis pumps in order to determine what they believe is a fair price to pay for the devices. Before the proliferation of many a man’s favorite little blue pill -- Viagra -- penis pumps used to be in much higher demand and, therefore, more expensive.

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As a result, HHS severely overpays for the pumps when they incorporate past prices into their buying price. The report found that Medicare pays double the current retail value for penis pumps. While the government spends an average of $360 per pump, the Office of the Inspector General found retail customers pay an average price of $164.

As The Atlantic writer Jordan Weissmann notes, the problem of Medicare overpaying for goods based on the historical pricing system is nothing new. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed fixing the system all the way back in 1999.

Yet here we are, 15 years later, still grossly overpaying for penis pumps. Keep it up, guys.

Sources: Fox News, The Atlantic