HRC Blog

Talking Trans Health with the NY Times

Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth is working on “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,” a resource guide for transgender and other gender-variant people. Last week, she took questions at the New York Times' City Room blog about transgender issues, and got one in particular about transgender-inclusive health insurance:

My questions deal with medical issues. It’s problematic enough finding health care professionals who can deal with ordinary and trans-related medical care, but one vexing issue is medical insurance. Insurance companies get really confused over things like prostate exams for women, or gynecological exams for men. It’s either that or they’ll classify the insured as the wrong sex, and then not deal with HRT. Some insurers deny payment for ordinary treatment even if it is not related to a trans care exclusion. Is there anything in the recent health insurance reform that addresses insurance discrimination against trans people? — Posted by Joann Prinzivalli

Dr. Erickson-Schroth responded:

Under many insurance plans, transgender-related care is excluded, meaning that insurance does not cover mental health care (if it is related to transition), hormone treatment or surgeries. Furthermore, many insurance companies do not cover care if it can be related (by them) to the policyholder being transgender – and I have heard about all sorts of things, including cholesterol tests, somehow related to the policyholder being transgender. The Human Rights Campaign has a specific project that investigates transgender-inclusive benefits and provides tips on how to find out what your particular insurance plan covers without putting your job in jeopardy. You may be able to gain some information about your company if it is listed in the Corporate Equality Index, a project that rates LGBT workplace policies and benefits. Insurance companies are often willing to offer benefits for transgender employees if they are requested, especially if the company that has the contract with the insurance provider is large. Because transgender surgeries (the most costly part of transgender care) are rare, it costs pennies for a company to add transgender benefits. Though it is not as difficult as you would think to add transgender coverage, many employees are afraid to ask or unaware that they can.

Read the full answer at the City Room blog Check out the rest of the discussion:

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