(The Post Millennial) – Following a decision from both state and federal officials, Colorado will become the first state to institute a requirement for individual and small-group health plans that forces them to cover transition-related procedures sought by transgender people.
According to The Washington Post, the change will take place on Jan. 1, 2023. Many private health insurance plans will be required to cover transition-related procedures like hormone therapy and genital reconstructive services.
It marks the first time the federal government has approved such a requirement for private health insurance. In more than a dozen states, including Colorado, such services are required to be covered under Medicaid plans.
In approving the plan, Biden officials cited discrimination facing transgender patients and said that the Colorado decision would serve as a road map for other states looking to include such coverage in the future.
“They also said the approval helps fulfill the president’s campaign pledge to expand access to coverage for LGBTQ Americans, including requiring insurers to cover care related to transitions,” wrote The Washington Post.
“Colorado’s taking a very important step,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Transgender [people]face discrimination on a constant basis. And it is, to some degree, intensified by the inability for transgender Americans to get the health care services they need.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, and other officials are set to make the official announcement in Denver on Tuesday.
The new coverage for transition-related procedures would require Colorado health plans to provide “gender-affirming care” to their customers.
The change in coverage is authorized “under a Trump-era policy that allows states to request modifications to their health insurance markets governed by the Affordable Care Act,” according to The Washington Post.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement on Tuesday that the department “recognizes that expanded, gender-affirming coverage vastly improves health-care outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community, reduces high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts as well as decreases substance use, improves HIV medication adherence, and reduces rates of harmful self-prescribed hormone use.”
According to One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, many private health plans tend to cover transition-related services like hormone therapy, though a November 2020 study conducted by Out2Enroll, an organization that helps the LGBTQ community obtain health insurance, found that many of the plans sold through the federal government’s HealthCare.gov site failed to specify whether they covered care of transgender patients.