Stop Trans* Health-Care discrimination: A Demand to All Major Health Insurance Providers in the United States
Transgender people are just that—people. We deserve to live our lives with dignity, free from discrimination. Transgender people deserve access to needed healthcare; denial is discrimination. All health insurance providers should immediately remove restrictions on trans health services.
Some trans people experience dissonance between their subconscious sex -- everyone's internal sense of self as physically male, female, or both -- and their birth sex; those who do not have access to trans health services can experience clinically significant psychological distress, dysfunction, debilitating depression and, for some people without access to appropriate medical care and treatment, suicidality and death.
The following are four major ways that trans people experience discrimination in healthcare:
“Denial of health insurance coverage, where someone is denied any health insurance on the basis of gender identity. The Transgender Law Center has documented cases in which health insurance companies and medical providers have denied coverage to transgender people when they became aware of an applicant's transgender status or prior treatment and medical history related to gender transition. In 2007, the American Medical Association declared its opposition to this practice.
Denial of coverage for claims related to gender transition, including claims arising from complications from medical treatment for gender transition.
Denial of coverage for claims for gender-specific care based on the person's gender marker on insurance. For example, a male-to-female person who develops prostate cancer, or a female-to-male person who develops ovarian cancer.
Denial of coverage for claims unrelated to gender transition. For example, an insurer argues that a medical concern is the direct or indirect result of transgender-related treatment such as hormone therapy.” http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/health-insurance-discrimination-for-transgender-people">Source
207 major employers [http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/corporate-equality-index-2011">Source] and several major universities (Harvard, Stanford, Emerson, U. California, U. Michigan, U. Washington, and U. Pennsylvania) have pro-actively supported comprehensive trans health care. Trans people without access to healthcare from these pioneering institutions must not be left behind.
Support from American Medical Association (AMA) [Excerpted fromhttp://www.tgender.net/taw/ama_resolutions.pdf">Source]:
"Whereas, Health experts in GID [Gender Identity Disorder], including WPATH [World Professional Association for Transgender Health], have rejected the myth that such treatments are “cosmetic” or “experimental” and have recognized that these treatments can provide safe and effective treatment for a serious health condition"
"Whereas, The AMA opposes limitations placed on patient care by third-party payers when such care is based upon sound scientific evidence and sound medical opinion"
"Whereas, Many health insurance plans categorically exclude coverage of mental health, medical, and surgical treatments for GID, even though many of these same treatments, such as psychotherapy, hormone therapy, breast augmentation and removal, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, orchiectomy, and salpingectomy, are often covered for other medical conditions"
"Whereas, The denial of these otherwise covered benefits for patients suffering from GID represents discrimination based solely on a patient’s gender identity"
"Whereas, Delaying treatment for GID can cause and/or aggravate additional serious and expensive health problems, such as stress-related physical illnesses, depression, and substance abuse problems, which further endanger patients’ health and strain the health care system;"
"RESOLVED, That the AMA support public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder (Directive to Take Action); and be it further
RESOLVED, That the AMA oppose categorical exclusions of coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder when prescribed by a physician (Directive to Take Action)".
Examples of Health Insurance Exclusions:
With these points in mind we find time and time again policies such as this of Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). Below, two major exclusions are listed [http://www.bcbsvt.com/member/MemberBenefits/benefit_Exclusions.html">Source]:
“7. Services or supplies we determine are not Medically Necessary.”
“58. Treatment leading to, or in connection with, transsexual Surgery."
Exclusion 7 allows denial of access to trans healthcare when if determined not medically necessary; for some trans people, services like hormone therapy and surgery are indeed medically necessary. This type of blanket exclusion needs to be changed.
A personal story related to typical exclusions like Exclusion 58: “Once the company sees any claim for anything GID related your account is flagged and everything will be scrutinized and ultimately denied. It could be a regular counseling session because a person is just so depressed and has nothing to do with the condition, DENIED! It could be a normal preventative screening, DENIED!”
Lack of Trans Healthcare Leads to Loss of Life
The petition’s author writes: “I am so sick of losing good friends and people I consider as close as family to depression, risky behaviors due to lack of money to cover care, and in many case them taking their life because they never see themselves being able to get the needed care that has been PROVEN to alleviate the symptoms of said condition.”
Call to Action
Take a step that will change the face of healthcare for transwomen and transmen everywhere. Being trans is not a choice. Denying trans people healthcare should no longer be a choice.
Add Your Voice
This is the reality of the situation and its time we take action. Anyone with more solid facts you would like to add or any of you that were denied by insurance please feel free to post segments of your denials and/or facts in your additional comments when signing this petition.
10,000 signatures will wake the CEOs up in the middle of the night.
If this is as important to you as it is for the petition’s author and so many others please take the time to sign and pass this along.
Thank you all!
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