State Health Agency Directs Insurers to Stop Discriminating Against Transgender People

The state’s Department of Managed Health Care has issued a letter to “remind” health care plans  that discrimination against transgender people is in violation of anti-discrimination laws passed in 2005. The DMHC regulates HMOs in California.

In a release, the Transgender Law Center called the directive “groundbreaking” and said it will save lives. “For years, transgender Californians have been denied coverage of basic care merely because of who we are,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the center. “Discriminatory insurance exclusions put transgender people and our families at risk for health problems and financial hardship. Now we can finally get the care we need.”

The letter restates that the 2005 Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act (IGNA) bars health plans from discriminating against individuals on the basis of gender. The state says that some current health plans contain exclusions of coverage or limitations based on a person’s transgender status. Specifically, the letter states that excluding transsexual surgery would be in violation of the act.

The DMHC’s action follows a similar move earlier this year by the Department of Insurance which regulates PPOs.

DMHC directed health plans to take several steps, including reviewing all health plan documents to confirm they are in compliance with the IGNA and revising any documents that are not in compliance, specifically those that include coverage limitations based on gender.