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Friday, January 4, 2013

Oregon Scores Transgender Health Insurance Win

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 3:29 PM

LGBT advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon is calling attention to a recent legal tweak in Oregon that will impact every transgender person in the state: Insurance companies in Oregon can't deny medically necessary care for transgender people if it covers the same care for non-transgender people.

This seems like a strange loophole to have to sew up, but the Oregon state insurance division spelled out the law on its website. The 2007 legislative session passed a law banning discrimination based on gender identity and it has taken this long for that change to shake out into concrete action on the insurance front.

The new rules don't guarantee coverage for gender reassignment surgery for people diagnosed with gender-identity disorder, as as Portland's city insurance and a bunch of major companies' insurance plans do. But if an insurance company covers something for other medical conditions—like, say hormone therapy for women with menopause or medically-necessary mastectomies—they have to offer that same coverage to people with gender-identity disorder.

There are no good numbers on how many insured, transgender people live in Oregon, but medical care for gender-identity issues is infamously costly. Puberty blockers for transgender teens, for example, cost $18,000 a year. Hopefully, parents of transgender kids growing up in Oregon won't have to choose between paying for medical care or paying for college.

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