The social costs of denying health care for transfolk

For background you might read Joan McCarter's How bad is health insurance for trans people? Really, really bad.

A new nationwide survey measures the social cost of health care providers denying care to transgender people.

As a result of being denied insurance coverage for transition-related medical care, 35% of survey respondents reported needing psychotherapy, 23% became unemployed, 15% attempted suicide, 15% ended up on public assistance programs and 14% became homeless.

The report also discovered that 37% of respondents who were denied care turned to drugs and/or alcohol and 36% developed other physical symptoms.

The report was commissioned by John Hodson, president of True Benefit, a benefit strategy corporation.

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.


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 by a new Connecticut state insurance mandate that became effective in 2014.

The survey was conducted by the philanthropic organization TrueChild (not related to True Benefit), which "helps institutions and practitioners integrate a focus on the impact of rigid gender norms through funding priorities, programs, and public policy." True Child focuses on issues of reproductive health, bullying and harassment, STEM and education.

Data was collected in May of this year from 355 transgender-identified individuals. The average age of respondents was 35. 85% were living fulltime in a gender different than their birth sex. 54% had completed all or part of their physical transitions.




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