"It’s fascinating that it took Viagra for people to recognize the importance of contraceptive coverage to women," says TIME medical columnist Christine Gorman. "The legislatures are realizing that if you cover Viagra, you have to give equal coverage to birth control." But Viagra may be having an even greater impact than on just the gender-equity front. The male "before" pill is helping bring the message to otherwise healthy people that drug costs in general are going up dramatically. "Most people pay for drugs out of pocket because they have no coverage for any drugs," says Gorman. Viagra has accordingly made many people realize how big their general medical insurance gap may be –- and rendered the President’s proposed Medicare drug plan all the more attention-grabbing. Now that’s potency.
It appears that Viagra has a lot more potency than just its medical benefits. A report in Wednesday’s New York Times underscores the fact that Viagra also packs a powerful political punch. As male patients have clamored to get Viagra prescriptions covered by their insurance providers –- and gotten some to agree –- women have been coming forward to question why female contraceptives continue to be off so many insurers' coverage lists. The result has been the creation of a movement, encouraged by the growing number of female state legislators around the country, that has resulted in the introduction of contraceptive-equity bills in more than 30 states and the enactment of such laws in half a dozen states.