Medicare usually does not pay for Viagra and similar drugs, such as Cialis and Levitra, that people use to treat sexual dysfunction.
Generic versions of the drugs are available for less cost. A person who needs the medication may find coupons online that further lower the price.
Here, we discuss the Medicare coverage and costs of Viagra and generic alternatives.
We also look at how the drugs work, their dosage, side effects, and precautions. Plus, we explore sexual dysfunction and its treatment.
In general, Medicare does not cover Viagra (sildenafil), although generic forms of the medication may be necessary for other medical conditions.
Each plan offers different coverage:
- Original Medicare comprises Part A, hospitalization insurance, and Part B, medical insurance. Neither Part A nor Part B includes prescription drug coverage.
- To help with uninsured healthcare costs, some people with original Medicare buy a Medigap plan, which is a Medicare supplement insurance. However, it does not provide drug coverage.
- A person who has original Medicare may buy a Medicare Part D plan to help pay for their medications. However, Part D does not include Viagra and other drugs for sexual dysfunction.
- Sildenafil can treat conditions other than sexual dysfunction. For example, doctors may use the generic version of Viagra to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. Part D may cover medications for this condition but not for sexual dysfunction.
A person can also use this tool to compare rates and drug coverage before choosing a plan.
Advantage plans are an alternative to original Medicare that includes parts A and B coverage and, in most cases, prescription drug coverage. The plans usually do not cover Viagra and similar drugs.
Despite not providing coverage of the name brands, some plans cover the generic versions of the medications. A person can check their particular Advantage plan to see what drugs it covers.
A person can find coupons online from retailers that can cut the cost. This makes the pills affordable for many people, even if they do not have health insurance.
The drug manufacturer Pfizer also has a Patient Assistance Program for some of its drugs, including Viagra, which makes them available for free in certain circumstances.
Viagra is a pill that people use if they have difficulty achieving an erection during sexual activity. It works by increasing the availability of a key body chemical.
Erection of the penis requires the release of a chemical known as nitric oxide (NO) during sexual stimulation.
NO allows the smooth muscles in the penis to relax, which permits increased blood flow and an erection. Viagra increases the effect of NO by suppressing the enzyme responsible for its breakdown.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report on eight studies that compare the effects of Viagra and a placebo on male participants with sexual dysfunction. Sexual stimulation resulted in better erection in those that took Viagra.
For most people, the recommended dosage is 50 mg, which they take 1 hour prior to sexual activity. A person may also take it from 30 minutes to 4 hours beforehand.
A doctor may prescribe a starting dose of 25 mg for individuals over 65 years and for those with reduced liver or kidney function.
According to the British Pregnancy Advocacy Service, a person should not use it if they have any of the following conditions:
People who take Viagra or its generic alternatives need to be aware of these precautions:
- It can interact negatively with certain medications, such as blood pressure drugs. A person must let their doctor know all their medications and nutritional supplements to ensure Viagra is advisable for them.
- It has the potential to cause serious side effects in people with a heart condition. If someone has heart risk factors and experiences symptoms, such as chest pain or dizziness, upon starting sexual activity, they should stop and consult their doctor before proceeding.
- It may cause a prolonged erection longer than 4 hours, which would put an individual in danger of a permanent loss of potency. If this happens, they need to go to the emergency room.
- It may cause a sudden loss of vision or hearing. If this occurs, a person should seek immediate medical attention.
Sexual dysfunction in males, sometimes called erectile dysfunction or impotence, refers to the inability to get an erection during intercourse.
It is a common condition that affects 30 million males in the United States. The following factors and conditions increase the risk:
- injury to the penis
- type 2 diabetes
- chronic kidney disease
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- surgery for bladder cancer
In addition, certain medications raise the likelihood of sexual dysfunction. These include drugs for high blood pressure, ulcers, and depression, as well as tranquilizers and medications that reduce appetite.
Complications of sexual dysfunction include:
- unfulfilled sex life
- inability to get a partner pregnant
- loss of intimacy with a partner
The most common treatment is Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, or one of the generic versions of the medication.
The generic form of Viagra is sildenafil, which is also sold under the brand name Revatio. However, drug manufacturers market Revatio for pulmonary hypertension when the dosage is different from that for erectile dysfunction.
A doctor may also recommend other treatments, such as:
- testosterone, if levels are low
- an injection or suppository of alprostadil to increase blood flow to the penis
- lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and stopping illegal drug use
A person may be interested in alternative medicine for sexual dysfunction, but not all nutritional supplements are safe. It is always best to check with a doctor before taking a natural remedy.
Medicare does not cover Viagra and similar drugs.
However, sildenafil and other generic medications are available, and they cost less than name-brand drugs, particularly with a coupon. Even without health insurance, generic medications may be affordable.
A person with sexual dysfunction may wish to discuss the condition with their doctor and see if it is safe for them to take Viagra or its generic alternative. A doctor can give a prescription and perhaps recommend other measures.