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Viagra costs military 5 times as much as healthcare would for transgender military troops

If we're just talking about erectile dysfunction treatment, it's actually 10 times as much
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Photo: Google Commons

Citing the “tremendous medical costs” of treating transgender military members, President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced a ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, but studies show his claim doesn’t really add up.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” the president wrote on Twitter.

Though Trump didn’t name an exact figure to define exactly what “tremendous medical costs” amount to, a Department of Defense study published last year titled, “Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly,” found the cost of treating the military’s 2,150 and 10,790 transgender troops would have “little impact.”

Are healthcare costs for transgender military personnel really "tremendous?"

The study, conducted by the nonprofit global policy think tank Rand Corp,  estimated allowing transgender troops to openly serve would cost $2.4 million to $8.5 million in added healthcare costs per year. In the worst-case scenario, that represents less than a thousandth of 1 percent of the Defense Department’s total yearly budget. which was $523.9 billion last year.

In 2014 the Defense Department spent over $6 billion on healthcare for troops and more than $49 billion on healthcare throughout the entire Defense Department.

It spends 10 times — $84.24 million — as much every year on erectile dysfunction treatments, according to a study by The Military Times. On Viagra alone, it spends nearly five times more annually, or about $41.6 million a year.

“We estimate that… health care costs will increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually—an amount that will have little impact on and represents an exceedingly small proportion of… health care expenditures,” the report states.

Since transgender service members have been serving on a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy similar to how the military dealt with gay and lesbian troops until 2011, it’s difficult to determine the exact number of transgender people currently serving the U.S. military. Rand Corp determined it was just a small fraction of the nation’s 1.2 million troops by analyzing self-reported, non-representative survey samples.