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Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Federal Plans Take Modest Step On Trans Health

The National Center for Transgender Equality expresses our disappointment that virtually every Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plan has failed to update their coverage to stop excluding medically necessary healthcare for transgender federal employees. Disregarding OPM's June 2013 invitation to insurance companies to drop discriminatory trans health exclusions, the majority of FEHB plans that were announced have retained these outdated and wrong trans health exclusions. NCTE calls on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to take stronger proactive steps to end discrimination against their transgender employees and cover trans health care needs. We urge federal employees who have been denied necessary care due to an exclusion to immediately file an EEO complaint with OPM.

In June 2013, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)  provided notice to insurance companies  who have  Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB)  plans that OPM will no longer require insurance carriers to have blanket exclusions on trans-related care.  Advocates, including NCTE, celebrated this change, which gave insurance companies the opportunity to modernize their health benefits ahead of open season that begins this month.  

Despite progress with some carriers including Aetna, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, and the Foreign Service benefits Plan, the vast majority of FEHB plans—including CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, the nation's largest carrier for federal workers—have  ignored the medical consensus on trans health care needs and have instead  chosen to preserve these discriminatory and arbitrary exclusions. NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

"NCTE is deeply disappointed by FEHB insurance plans that have chosen to keep their discriminatory, anti-trans health policies. Though NCTE celebrated OPM's modest step forward in the 2013 carrier call letter, this is deeply unfair to their trans employees. Instead of these half-steps and missteps, OPM should take the right step and ban these exclusions altogether in the 2016  carrier call letter they will issue this Spring. Insurance companies have already been put on notice and have ignored it. It's time that OPM aggressively enforce anti-discrimination protections for federal workers."

NCTE will continue to press for comprehensive healthcare for transgender federal workers and erase exclusions from all insurance programs. Federal workers are encouraged to learn more about their workplace protections with our Know Your Rights guide here.

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