Blue Cross nixes coverage of gender reassignment surgery

By |2009-03-26T09:00:00-04:00March 26th, 2009|News|

A broad coalition of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, The National Association of Social Workers, Transgender Michigan and others are condemning a move by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to eliminate coverage for gender reassignment surgery.
The new entity calls itself The Michigan Coalition for Gender Equality.
“We are concerned that BCBSM underestimates the profound impact of these medically necessary procedures,” said Andre Wilson of MCGE. “Gender reassignment surgeries can be a critical part of the transition process and these new exclusions will place many transgender individuals and their families at real risk.”
The change was approved in February, says Jason Moon, a spokesman for the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. He called the change “unfortunate,” but noted the law did not define gender reassignment surgery as a necessary medical care area. Moon said such areas were things like breast cancer and diabetes.
Gender reassignment surgery is often used to treat gender dysphoria, the medical diagnosis given to transgender persons. The surgery is considered medically necessary by advocates, and has been recognized by the American Medical Association.
Julie Nemecek, co-director of Michigan Equality, said the state’s comment about the change being “unfortunate,” gave her hope the policy might change again.
“It gives me a lot of encouragement they recognize how bad a decision it was on their part,” said Nemecek.
Gender reassignment surgery can cost $20,000 over a two year time period.

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