* From a July 29th press release…
The Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) today issued guidance clarifying that under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Illinois state law health insurers may not discriminate based on gender identity and related medical conditions. The guidance reminds insurers that exclusions and denials of coverage on the basis of gender identity are against the law.
“This is an important step to ending discrimination in Illinois,” DOI Director Andrew Boron said. “Transgender individuals are entitled to the same access to health care as everyone else. Health insurance policies that discriminate against a group of people, or based on any medical condition, will not be tolerated in Illinois.”
With the issuing of this guidance to insurers through an agency Bulletin, Illinois joins a handful of other states which have taken steps to bar discrimination in healthcare against transgender individuals.
“I applaud DOI for working to make certain that all Illinois citizens are given equal access to necessary healthcare services and that people are treated fairly and without discrimination,” State Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said.
“I commend DOI Director Andrew Boron and Governor Pat Quinn Pat for this action which demonstrates that the state of Illinois is strongly committed to fighting discrimination in healthcare against any member of our population,” Illinois Human Rights Department Director Rocco Claps said. “Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, and no one should face discrimination in their healthcare needs because of their gender identity.”
Under both federal and state law, if a health insurer covers certain services when medically necessary, such as a breast mastectomy or hormone therapy, it cannot deny those services for a transgendered person solely on the basis of that person’s transgender status or gender dysphoria. Currently, some insurers have broad exclusions for gender identity treatment and services. The guidelines issued today prohibit insurers from excluding services that target transgender persons or persons with gender dysphoria. Today’s announcement calls for an end to this disparate treatment of transgendered individuals.
DOI will be reviewing individual and small group policies offered under the ACA for 2015 to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws.
“This guidance helps ensure parity in health care coverage, making certain that services such as mental health care, cancer screenings and hormone therapy are routinely covered for transgender people when the insurer provides those services to non-transgender policy holders,” John Peller, interim president and CEO of the Aids Foundation of Chicago, said in a statement.
However, some question the move. The Illinois Family Institute’s Executive Director David Smith said the guidelines put some religious business owners in a position that forces them to compromise their faiths.
“To succumb and be made to submit to a rule that violates their freedom of conscience,” Smith said.
* Windy City Times…
Transgender people often face discrimination when seeking insurance coverage of medically-necessary treatments prescribed by their physicians, even though such treatments are routinely covered for others. For example, hormone therapy and regular blood tests to guard against any negative medical consequences are routinely covered for many people, such as post-menopausal women, but are currently denied to many transgender people. Likewise, breast reconstruction surgery is routinely covered for women after surgery for breast cancer, but is routinely denied for transgender people, even if ordered by a physician.
There are many other medical procedures and treatments that are covered routinely each day — from surgery to mammograms to Pap smears — for non-transgender people that are often denied to transgender people, even though they are prescribed by a physician as medically-necessary treatment.
The Department of Insurance bulletin says such denials are discriminatory and not permitted under existing law. In recent months, insurance authorities in Oregon, California, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, Washington and the District of Columbia all have made similar statements, making clear that health insurers in those states cannot discriminate on the basis of gender identity. The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and other national medical organizations all have called for an end to insurance discrimination based on gender identity. […]
The bulletin from the Department of Insurance cites three laws that prohibit discrimination against transgender people: the Affordable Care Act, the Illinois Human Rights Act and the Illinois Mental Health Parity Act. The bulletin explains that a plan may not be certified in Illinois ( a prerequisite to a plan being marketed and sold in the state ) if the plan discriminates against transgender people.