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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 20 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 25
New guidelines: Insurers can cover Trans federal employees, OPM says
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New guidelines: Insurers can cover Trans federal employees, OPM says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued new guidelines June 13, striking their previous requirement that the Federal Employees Health Benefits program (FEHB) exclude care for gender transition.

In a letter to FEHB insurance carriers, OPM acknowledges the "evolving professional consensus that treatment is considered medically necessary" for Transgender people.

The new guidelines mean that insurers who cover federal employees may now offer medical services related to transition, but they are not required to do so.

OPM's letter to insurance providers "is consistent with decades of research and practice demonstrating that access to transition-related care significantly improves the health of transgender people and that exclusions blocking coverage put patients' lives at risk and undermine the ability of medical professionals to appropriately care for their patients," Center for American Progress policy analyst Andrew Cray wrote.

"Removing barriers to coverage has become a proven good employment practice, and enables transgender employees to live healthy, authentic lives."

OPM's decision places the federal government on the growing list of American employers who are reversing discrimination against their Transgender employees by treating their health care needs as they do other types of care.

The California Public Employees's Retirement System (CalPERS), the country's second-largest purchaser of health insurance, removed exclusions for transition-related care last year, and several state and municipal governments have also increased access to healthcare for their Trans employees.

In the private sector, HRC's 2013 Corporate Equality Index found that more than a quarter of Fortune 500 companies now offer their employees healthcare coverage that is fully inclusive of Transgender health needs.

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