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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

AMA Opposes Denial of Health Insurance Benefits

The American Medical Association house of delegates met in Chicago the weekend of June 23/24, passing a number of historic trans-positive policies for all physicians to follow or be in violation of acceptable professional ethics. These will, of course, have the most impact in workplaces employing physicians. One of these policies, however, which opposes denial of health insurance benefits based on gender identity, will affect all workplaces

The policy to which I refer is the following:

Policy H-180.980
Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Identity as Health Insurance Criteria.
The AMA opposes the denial of health insurance on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. (Res. 178, A-88; Reaffirmed: Sub. Res. 101, I-97)

This issue is definitely making great strides. As I've discussed before, most benefit plans contain an exclusion for "transsexualism." This means that mental health counseling, hormone replacement therapies and surgical procedures will not be covered if they are associated with transsexualism. As I read it, the AMA is opposing this type of exclusion. As noted in my previous discussions, the reasons for the exclusion no longer apply, and the Human Rights Campaign has changed its Corporate Equality Index to measure coverage of transgender health benefits. Kodak, Microsoft and other employers have now included many transgender health benefits, including surgical benefits. A transgender employee recently won a lawsuit against an insurer, Highmark Blue Shield, that refused to cover the costs of her sex reassignment surgery. However, there are still major problems experienced by transgender employees trying to access coverage. Employers should look to see what health benefits they offer transgender employees, and consider how they might communicate with insurers to avoid problems that may turn into litigation.

To read the full AMA report,click on: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/467/bot11a07.doc

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