Health Plans for Retired City of Cincinnati Employees Cover Viagra — But That Could Change

The elimination of the coverage for drugs like Viagra would save the city's retirement system roughly $425,000 a year, the city manager says.

click to enlarge Cincinnati City Hall - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati City Hall

In an effort to cut costs for the city's retirement system, Cincinnati City Manager Patrick Duhaney has proposed a few changes to prescription drug plans for retirees. One of those shifts involves... let's just say a sensitive issue.

Under the changes outlined in a memo last week, city retirees would no longer have "lifestyle erectile dysfunction drugs" like Viagra covered under their prescription plans. The city axed the medication from active employees' prescription coverage last year, and the elimination from retirees' plans is expected to save the city $425,000 a year.

Viagra costs an average of $15 a pill, though generic versions can cost a third of that. About 400 retirees used their plans to purchase the pills in 2017, according to the city. That year, those purchases cost the city's retirement plan $700,000.

Duhaney also suggested shifts to CVS prescription programs and formulas that active employees use. Taken together, the moves aim to save about $1.1 million and bring prescription plans for retirees into line with active employees'. 

"The major cost driver for retiree healthcare is prescription drugs," Duhaney writes in the memo, noting that the suggestions align with "industry best practices." 

Retirees suffering from some specific medical conditions could still obtain erectile dysfunction drugs under the changes, which could face challenge from retirees.

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