Copyright 2000 Phoenix Newspapers, Inc.
December 15, 2000 Friday, Final Chaser
SECTION: FRONT; Pg. A13
LENGTH: 195 words
EEOC: BIRTH CONTROL MUST BE COVERED
Health plans that cover the impotency drug
Viagra cannot exclude coverage for contraception, a federal
agency said Wednesday.
Viagra was included in many health plans when it
was introduced, setting off protests among women who argued that birth control
pills should be covered, too. The decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission directly affects only two women who complained to the commission. But
it has potential implications for millions of others whose health insurance
plans exclude birth control pills, diaphragms and other prescription
The debate over contraceptive
coverage intensified when the male impotence drug Viagra became
available in April 1998. Women's groups argued that it was unfair that many
insurance companies covered Viagra and did not cover birth control since both
allow for sexual activity, albeit in different ways.
EEOC said that excluding contraceptives is a violation of the
1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which requires equal treatment of women
"affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions," in all
aspects of employment, including fringe benefits.
LOAD-DATE: December 31, 2000