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Oct. 20, 2015: More About Trans Health Care

October 20, 2015

It looks like the tide is slowly turning in favor of non-discrimination in transgender health care. The news about Mara’s employer’s new provider covering part of the costs of gender-affirming surgery shows how this trend is affecting us personally. But the Obama administration’s proposed rule last month that would prohibit health insurers who participate in federal- and state-run health insurance marketplaces, as well as any provider that accepts federal funding, from discriminating patients based on gender identity, will be a giant leap for the trans community. Currently, laws protecting trans people in terms of health care and health insurance differ by state, and the majority of states don’t have any such laws in place. More details about the proposed rule can be found in this U.S. News & World Report article. Although it doesn’t specifically require insurers to cover transition-related services like surgery, it’s a step in the right direction.

Still, many trans people are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to healthcare and insurance coverage, according to this Mother Jones article — especially if they don’t have insurance through a marketplace. Notwithstanding gender-affirming surgery, there are other health issues that trans people face for which providers and insurers often deny care and benefits, like a trans man’s need for a hysterectomy. We’ve come a long way since the days of Robert Eads, a trans man who died of ovarian cancer in the 1990s because doctors refused to treat him. (You can read a brief story and on his struggle and watch “Southern Comfort,” a documentary about Eads, at TransGuys.com.) But there’s still a long way to go.

Despite that, there is hope — and progress — in the private sector. Mara’s employer’s new health insurer is one example. Here’s another shining example: The Kroger Co., which is based in one of the states that does not have laws protecting people from health care/health insurance discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, will start offering an employee health plan that covers trans-related care, including gender-affirming surgery, in January, according to a Fusion.net blog post. 

 

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