Categorized | Opinion

OP-ED: Transgender individuals should not be left out of universal healthcare

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Many are in desperate need of a very effective health procedure, which would not only better their health, but also their overall wellbeing. Now consider this: many health insurers claim that because they don’t deem the issue in need of medical attention, it would not be covered.

This is the case for thousands of transgendered U.S. citizens today whose treatments (both general and transgender-related) are not covered by all health insurance agencies.

Not only is this wrong, it is in absolute violation of America’s newly implemented universal healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act. How can healthcare be universal if treatment for certain U.S. citizens with special needs is being inherently ignored?

Transgender is defined as an individual’s own association with a gender role not connected to their genetic sex at birth. Some transgender people are professionally recommended for gender reassignment, something considered a medical necessity.

According the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted in 2011, 41 percent of its 6,500 transgender participants reported attempting suicide at least once. This is a drastically upsetting statistic, since only 1.5 percent of the general U.S. population has reported attempting suicide at all. Another disturbing discovery is that transgender individuals are four times more likely to have an income below $10,000 per year than their non-transgender participants. This means that it is very likely that many transgender people are using Medicaid or Obamacare for health insurance.

In President Barack Obama’s new Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, it is now illegal to discriminate and deny medical care to transgender individuals. Obamacare does not, however, explicitly state that it covers trans-specific treatments such as hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery.

The Supreme Court has also not explicitly discussed the issue of making trans-specific treatments medically necessary for coverage.

However, even with Obamacare in place, a study reported that 19 percent of transgender people said they were denied health care and were discriminated against in the medical office for treatments that are not trans-specific, such as a physical exam or an x-ray for a possible broken bone.

It is a basic human right as a citizen of the United States to get proper health care with the new Obamacare plan. Giving someone the proper medical treatment for an ailment as severely detrimental as GID is not cosmetic, it is vital.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, suicide rates drop drastically from 41 percent to six percent when a transgender individual receives gender reassignment treatment. Not only do suicide rates drop, but also overall health improves and Medicaid expenses for the nation drop because there are fewer substance abuse and mental health costs to cover.

It is not only fair, but also morally just to aid those in our nation in whatever way necessary. In a universal health care plan, everyone should be included.

 

Works Cited:

https://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/finding-insurance-for-transgender-related-healthcare

http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2013/11/01/how-obamacare-will-affect-trans-folks-and-families.

Grant, Jaime, Lisa Mottet, and Justin Tanis. “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.” ABA Journal (2011): n. pag. Web.

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