DETROIT Discrimination against transgender people as many as one million Americans identify themselves as transgender should immediately be addressed by the medical establishment, backed by policy change at the national level to provide equal access to quality health care.
That is the primary recommendation of a study by Daphna Stroumsa, M.D., MPH, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Henry Ford Hospital, whose research was recently published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health.
"Bias against transgender people takes an enormous toll on their health through direct harm, lack of appropriate care and a hostile environment, and through transgender people's avoidance of the medical system as a result of discrimination and lack of respect," Dr. Stroumsa says. "The medical establishment has a duty, and an ability, to protect transgender patients from such harms."
A top priority, she recommends, is that all health care programs funded by the federal government be required to provide coverage of care including sex reassignment surgery while transgender patients make the physical transition to the sex matching their gender identity.
These should include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicaid and Medicare, and Children's Health Insurance Program also known as Children's Medicaid.
"Private insurance may ultimately follow adoption of full coverage by federally funded programs," Dr. Stroumsa writes. "But until it does, federal guidelines protecting transgender people from discrimination by private insurance companies is warranted, including a ban on the practice of denying medical care coverage by linking the care to transition, which is not covered under most policies."
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes gender identity in its nondiscrimination clause, to what extent it will protect transgender people from denial of coverage remains to be seen, she a
|Contact: Dwight Angell|
Henry Ford Health System