Can I claim a Vacuum Erection Device ('pump') through my health fund?
Vacuum Erection Devices (VED) play a role in rehabilitation of neurogenic (caused by nerve injury) erectile dysfunction (the type that commonly occurs after prostate cancer surgery) and for sexual wellness by creating erections for intercourse if desired.
Using a VED helps keep the penis tissue stretched and increases blood flow into the tissue. After prostate cancer surgery the cavernous nerves are damaged or traumatised so nocturnal erections do not occur. The VED acts instead as a manual ‘penis gym’ drawing blood manually into the muscle tissue, or as one of my clients puts it : ‘got to do your penis push ups for any chance of keeping it up’
Fun fact of the day : men (pre- surgery induced erection nerve trauma) get 5 nocturnal erections a night, depending on some mediating factors such as sleep quality and age.
Funner fact of the day : women have the same number of nocturnal clitoral erections!!
So will my Health Fund cover a VED?
If you belong to a private health fund (with extras for medical devices) you may very well get some of your money back.
This is a strong “may” however with no guarantees due to the current lack of general awareness around the importance of sexual wellness (even though we’ve got the data… rant for another blog post) and the fledgling status of standardised penile rehabilitation.
Top Two Tips for Claiming
The device you purchase must be medical grade.
Medical grade VEDs are designed specifically for regular rehabilitation, they have gone through stringent testing for safety and effectiveness. For example The Vacurect VED (that we have the pleasure of supplying) has been tested through two academic institutions and received a Medical Device Class 1 TGA approval (public summary here). Whatever VED you choose, you will have more success claiming with a certified medical-grade device.
Provide a Doctor’s Letter / Script for a VED.
When I first decided to stock The Vacurect I called up some health funds to understand their process so I could give out the best information to my clients. After playing dial-code-bingo to speak to the correct (/any) human being (you know how it is!) the answer was actually quite inconclusive. The best process seems to be hoping someone processes the claim who knows what a VED is. I had one poor fellow on the phone reading out every tick box on his medical device form trying to understand where it belonged : ‘… is it stocking?’
No Steve, it is not a stocking…
Therefore it’s a good idea to ask your GP or urologist to write you a letter or prescription for ‘a vacuum erection device for chronic ED’ next time you’re in to see them. Handing this in with the receipt (and even the certificate for medical grade status) will help towards your claim getting processed.