Tags: Healthcare Reform | sex change | surgery | government | workers | covered

Government Workers' Insurance Plans Cover Sex Change Surgery

By    |   Saturday, 08 November 2014 11:08 AM

Government employees who receive their health insurance coverage through Aetna will be eligible for sex-change operations next year, the company has announced.

The company announced last month that it will cover the the surgery for federal employees in all 50 states, reports The Washington Post. The company covers about 121,000 federal workers through the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

"Aetna has long been supportive of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community," the company said last month. Aetna is among the first carriers in the federal insurance program that offers coverage for the surgeries.

In addition, Kaiser, which enrolled some 240,000 federal workers last year, and the Foreign Service Benefit plan, covering members of the American Foreign Service Protective Association, also cover transgender services.

The companies all changed their policies after the federal Office of Personnel Management announced that it would end bans on transgender care services by its carriers.

However, Blue Cross Blue Shield, which covers the most federal workers, at 2.6 million, will not offer transgender care coverage next year.

The ban was lifted earlier this year, only two weeks after the Obama administration ended the 1981 ban on Medicare payments for sex reassignment surgery, which can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000.

The move for federal, state, and private insurance companies to fund gender reassignment surgery is growing, with the states of Oregon, California, Vermont, Colorado, and Connecticut, and the District of Columbia directing private insurers to pay for the surgery. In addition, insurers for San Francisco and Rochester, NY, cover the costs of the procedure for municipal employees.

In addition, the number of large employers covering sex reassignment surgery has grown from 49 to 340, which includes 28 percent of the nation's Fortune 500 companies, according to a Human Rights Campaign report.

The 1981 federal ban was lifted after an appeal by Army veteran Denee Mallon, 74, who told The Washington Post,  "I am relieved to know that my doctor and I can now address my medical needs, just as other patients and doctors do."

Most insurance plans refused coverage for the surgery for many years, but the medical community now recognizes gender identity disorder to be a diagnosable and treatable condition, reports the Post. And as opinions change, employers and policymakers say insurers should cover the surgery's expensive costs.

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Government employees who receive their health insurance coverage through Aetna will be eligible for sex-change operations next year, the company has announced.
sex change, surgery, government, workers, covered
Saturday, 08 November 2014 11:08 AM
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