Oregon Removes Barriers To Transition-related Care‏

From Basic Rights Oregon:

Basic Rights Oregon Header

Great news! The Insurance Division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) just announced that insurance companies doing business in Oregon must end discriminatory exclusions of medically-necessary healthcare for transgender Oregonians.

We all know someone who has been denied medically necessary care by an insurance company working to protect its bottom line. It’s unfair, painful, and downright dangerous when it happens. And for transgender people, these denials are often a fact of life.

Many transgender Oregonians are denied the ability to purchase health insurance or are denied coverage for basic, medically necessary care solely because they are transgender (watch a video of their stories here). These exclusions are wrong, discriminatory– and the Insurance Division has made it clear that this kind of discrimination has no place in Oregon.

The Insurance Division bulletin specifically states that:

  • Health insurers may not categorically exclude transgender patients from coverage.
  • Health insurers must provide coverage and cannot deny coverage of treatments for transgender policy holders if the same treatments are covered for other policy holders.
  • Health insurers may not deny treatment on the basis of a policy holder’s actual or perceived gender. That means that all policy holders can rely on annual exams, cancer screenings, and gender-specific health care, regardless of their gender on file.
  • The statewide mandate for coverage of mental health services must apply to transgender patients.

To learn more about this bulletin, or if you are denied care following this announcement, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions sheet and to theInsurance Division website.

After years of work on this issue, the Trans Justice team at Basic Rights Oregon is celebrating a tremendous victory for trans, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming Oregonians. Portland resident and Trans Justice Working Group member Ray Crider said,

For me, this coverage is preventive health care. As a transgender man, part of my daily routine is binding my chest to create a masculine appearance. This created health problems for me by restricting my breathing and causing inflammation in the wall of my lungs. As a result, I ended up in the emergency room several times for shortness of breath and chest pain. Doctors told me the only solution was to stop binding, but the surgery I needed ended up being the same cost as my emergency room visits. Transgender exclusions in insurance policies are a lose-lose proposition, and I’m glad they’re coming to an end.


Basic Rights Oregon and transgender community leaders will continue working together to increase access to medically necessary care for trans Oregonians. And we’ll share more updates as this exciting bulletin is implemented.



The Affordable Care Act & LGBT Persons

In 10,000 Same Sex Couples Magazine, an excellent overview of the benefits of the ACA for LGBT persons. Excerpt:

Nondiscrimination protection measures have been included in the Affordable Care Act, and significantly, by 2014, insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions such as HIV or transgendered medical history.

Increased services for preventive care and HIV testing and treatment have been included in the ACA.  As insurance companies will no longer be able to cancel or deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, Americans living with HIV will have better access to care and to life-saving drugs, whereas currently, an estimated 25% of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV in the United States have no health insurance coverage. Many of those living with HIV without insurance, or with insurance but consistently fearful of having it canceled due to a pre-existing condition, have been forced to pay out of pocket or seek other methods of treatment.

LGBTQ Activist Chris Barnett of San Francisco says: “I’ve been fortunate to have health coverage all my years of living with HIV, so pre-existing condition has thankfully never directly affected me. Though I must say, in my early years with this, late ’80s to early ’90s, I was fearful of using my insurance for fear of being redlined, so I paid for early treatment out of pocket, or found medical studies.”

As most states in America fail to recognize same-sex relationships, healthcare through a spouse’s workplace is not an option for many LGBTQ Americans. This often results in a high number of citizens forced to pay high prices for private insurance or to forgo having any insurance at all due to cost.  With ACA’s expansions to the affordability and accessibility of healthcare, more LGBTQ Americans will be able to be covered.

Read the rest here.

Tester Stands Up

Senator Jon Tester’s office released the following today:

Jon Tester, U.S. Senator from Montana

Image via Wikipedia

Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after voting against a controversial amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., that would have allowed employers to deny health insurance coverage, including contraception, for any employee based on “moral convictions”:

“This is a reckless attempt to undermine individual freedom and restrict access to health care for women.  This measure is unprecedented and out-of-touch with Montana, and it would have prevented women from making their own healthcare decisions.”

The amendment did not define “moral convictions,” meaning an employer could have denied insurance coverage for anything from blood transfusions and diabetes screenings to HPV vaccinations and treatment of HIV.

The measure failed by a vote of 51-48, failing to reach the 60 votes needed for approval.

It sounds like it would have given employers the right to discriminate for insurance coverage.

I’m especially glad the release specifically mentioned HIV- we have hundreds of Montanans living with HIV who are enrolled in health insurance through their employers….