Last month, the Oregon Insurance Division of the state’s Department of Consumer and Business Services quietly issued a bulletin that constitutes a monumental new protection for transgender people in the state. In 2007, Oregon passed a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, and the new bulletin dictates that as such, it is illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage to trans people or refuse to cover their medically necessary health care. Here is a list of actions that could constitute discrimination based on gender identity (actual or perceived) for all private insurers in Oregon, via PQ monthly:
- Denying, cancelling, limiting, or refusing to renew an insurance policy.
- Requiring different rates or premiums.
- Classifying “gender identity disorder” or “gender dysphoria” (GI/GD) as a disqualifying pre-existing condition.
- Denying coverage for a procedure that is provided for the treatment of other conditions of illness (such as hormone therapy, mastectomy, or vocal training).
- Categorically denying coverage of GI/GD.
- Denying mental health coverage for GI/GD-related issue in adults.
- Denying sex-specific care (such as pap smears and prostate exams).
In a 2010 study, 19 percent of trans people reported being refused medical care, 28 percent postponed medical care due to discrimination, and 48 percent reported that they simply could not afford treatment. Bridging this inequity is essential for helping members of the trans community access the same basic level of health care as the general public.