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CA, OR Direct Insurance Compaines to Provide Transgender Health Coverage

PPOs must cover hormone therapy, breast reduction, cancer screening or any other procedure deemed medically necessary.

Regulators in Oregon and California have directed some health insurance companies to stop denying coverage for transgender patients, the Huffington Post reported.

Insurance coverage must apply to a transgender person's hormone therapy, breast reduction, cancer screening or any other procedure deemed medically necessary if they cover it for patients who aren't transgender, according to regulators.

According to the Huffington Post:

The changes apply to companies insuring about a third of Oregonians and about 7 percent of Californians, but not to people on Medicare and Medicaid or to the majority of Californians who are insured through a health management organization, or HMO.

Advocacy groups said the action is a major step forward in their long battle to win better health care coverage for transgender Americans.

"It's just a matter of fairness," said Ray Crider, a 28-year-old transgender man from Portland. "I just never felt that I was like anybody else. I see everybody else being taken care of without having to fight the system."

Officials in both states said the new regulations aren't new policies but merely a clarification of anti-discrimination laws passed in California in 2005 and in Oregon two years later.

Many health insurance policies broadly exclude coverage of gender identity disorder or classify it as a pre-existing condition. Transgender patients are often denied coverage for medical procedures unrelated to a gender transition, advocacy groups said, because insurance companies deem the condition to be related to their sex reassignment.

Some transgender patients also have trouble getting access to gender-specific care. A person who identifies as a man might be denied coverage for ovarian cancer screening or a hysterectomy. A transgender woman might be denied a prostate screening.

The state insurance regulators said those procedures, if covered for anybody, must be covered for all patients regardless of their gender.

The California regulations took effect in September and apply only to insurance products regulated by the California Department of Insurance, which primarily regulates preferred provider plans, or PPOs.

The agency that regulates California HMOs has discussed transgender care with consumer groups and health plans, "but no regulations have yet been proposed or adopted," Marta Bortner Green, a spokeswoman for the Department of Managed Health Care, told the Associated Press.

Click here to read the entire Huffington Post article.

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