Insurance coverage of transgender surgery to be reinstated

August 28, 2018 By Greg Bump

The Group Insurance Board last week voted to include coverage of transgender surgery for state employees starting Jan. 1.

In 2016, the board approved coverage for transgender surgery starting Jan. 1, 2017, but that decision was reversed after a month. This vote reinstates the coverage.

In July, six UW System chancellors, including UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, sent a letter to the board asking that the coverage be reinstated.

“Our institutions are now at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting and retaining faculty with many peer public institutions and other employers providing this coverage,” the chancellors wrote in the letter. “We ask that you consider necessary policy changes to maintain equity and allow our universities to compete for and retain talented faculty and staff. Excluding any segments of our campus communities from access to necessary health care runs counter to our values.”

The Group Insurance Board is the state panel that sets policy for and oversees administration of the group health, life and income continuation insurance plans for state employees and retirees.

The decision by the board removed the exclusion for transgender services. These benefits will now be determined by medical necessity, an approach consistent with other parts of Uniform Benefits.

“We are very grateful that the GIB heard our request and acted swiftly to remove the transgender health care exclusion,” Laurent Heller, vice chancellor for finance and administration, says. “The stories I heard from our campus community about the impacts of the exclusion were deeply troubling, so I know this change will make a big difference in people’s lives. For my part, it’s particularly satisfying to see that we were able to successfully advocate for this change by working together across the LGBTQ community and campus administration.”

If you have questions about specific coverage provided under your health insurance, please contact your health plan.