As the Obama administration proposes new rules that would prevent health care providers from discriminating against transgender surgery and similar gender-related care, a new survey of transgender people nationally finds that even when care is denied, there are important costs for both insurers and the public.
As a result of being denied insurance coverage for transition-related medical care, 35 percent of survey respondents reported needing psychotherapy, 23 percent became unemployed, 15 percent attempted suicide, and 15 percent ended up on public assistance programs while 14 percent became homeless.
The report also found that 37 percent of respondents denied care turned to drugs and/or alcohol, and 36 percent developed other physical symptoms.
John Hodson, President of True-Benefit which commissioned the report, said: “Insurers and policy-makers have had an antiquated list of exclusions written that have not evolved over several decades. Indeed, the thought was that denying care for transgender medical care saved money for policy holders. This report shows that’s not true.”
“There are important costs-both to insurers and the public-associated with denying care to transgender individuals. They include the costs of psychotherapy, public assistance, unemployment, and care for new physical symptoms,” he added.
Hodson, an insurance industry professional, became interested in the issue when his own daughter was denied coverage just two weeks before a gender-reassignment operation that had been planned for two years for her transition, even though it was supposed to be covered. She eventually became the first person covered a new Connecticut state insurance mandate that became effective in 2014.
The survey of more than 355 transgender-identified individuals, among the first to focus on denial of health care, was conducted by TrueChild in May of 2015. The average age among respondents was 35. Although the majority (85 percent) were living full-time in a gender different from their birth sex, only about half (54 percent) had completed all or part of their physical transitions. A copy of the report is available from TrueChild.
True-Benefit assists businesses in developing comprehensive strategies for their Employee Benefit programs.
TrueChild (no relation to True-Benefit) helps institutions and practitioners integrate a focus on the impact of rigid gender norms through funding priorities, programs, and public policy.