Transgender surgery: should your company pay for it?

In this Feb. 11, 2011 photo, Gina Duncan, a transgender employee, sits at her Wells Fargo office in Maitland, Fla. More and more large corporations, including Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup and Walt Disney, are covering surgery for transgender employees as part of their health plans. The trend follows a concerted push by transgender rights advocates to get employers and insurers to see sex reassignment the way the American Medical Association does â AP Photo/Roberto Gonzalez

Transgender employee Gina Duncan works at Wells Fargo where her sex reassignment surgery was covered by health insurance.
Transgender employee Gina Duncan works at Wells Fargo where her sex reassignment surgery was covered by health insurance.
AP Photo/Roberto Gonzalez


(CBS/AP) SAN FRANCISCO - While millions of Americans are grappling with employer-provided health insurance that covers less and costs more, one surprising group is benefiting as of late - transgendered people.

That's according to an Associated Press report which found that big name companies like Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup and Walt Disney have expanded their insurance coverage to meet the needs of transgender workers.

All told, there are 85 large businesses and law firms that cover the cost of at least one surgery, according to a 2010 survey by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group.

The trend follows a concerted push by transgender rights advocates to get employers and insurers to see sex reassignment the way the American Medical Association does - as a medically indicated rather than an optional procedure for people diagnosed with gender identity disorder.

In order to transition from one gender to another, patients may need some combination of hormone treatments, breast augmentation, plastic surgery to remove or reconstruct genitals and facial reconstruction. People suffering from gender identity disorder are at a very high risk for suicide.

Some businesses see covering the cost of transgender surgery as not only an important human resources statement, but good business sense. They want to retain valuable employees and are keen to keep a 100 percent rating on the Corporate Equality Index, a measure graded by the Human Rights Campaign.

The next index comes out in fall and in order to keep a pristine rank, companies will have to offer at least one insurance plan that covers at least $75,000 worth of surgery and other treatments recommended by a patient's doctor.

Find out more about gender identity disorder here. Find out about the HRC's corporate equality index here.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Should companies pay for sex reassignment surgery and other treatments or is it asking too much?

  • Neil Katz

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