Colorado forces insurance companies to cover gender-affirming care

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The change, which will take effect in 2023, requires carriers to cover care such as hormone therapy, facial feminization and upper surgery.

COLORADO, USA – At ONE Colorado, Nadine Bridges works to change the lives of LGBTQ Coloradans.

“We just want people to live their lives, thrive and survive in this world,” said the executive director.

In 2023, Bridges said life will get a little easier for some due to a change in Essential Colorado Health Benefits which will require insurance companies to cover gender-affirming care and surgeries for transgender patients.

This is the first time the federal government has approved such a requirement in individual and small-group health plans, and the ruling means specific treatments must be covered if a doctor deems them medically necessary.

RELATED: ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ Added as Essential Health Benefit to Medicare Plans

According to a Health and social services press release, these treatments will include “eye and eyelid modifications, facial tightening, facial bone reshaping for facial feminization, breast and breast construction and reduction, and laser hair removal “.

“I think what people don’t realize is that some of these surgeries, like advanced surgery, electrolysis, and facial feminization, some people feel like it’s more aesthetic and it there are many in our community who really need it, ”said Bridges.

Blair Sagan knows this need.

Three years ago, the 32-year-old paid $ 10,000 out of pocket to undergo state-of-the-art surgery, a procedure to remove breast tissue and reshape the breast.

“I was in a very deep depression and I knew it had to happen and it changed my life,” Sagan said. “And the feeling afterwards, I want every trans person to have. You know, the gender euphoria.”

Sagan said that even within trans health care coverage there are disparities, and knowing that many Colorado insurance companies will no longer be able to call certain optional or cosmetic care is a victory for trans rights.

“There are so many other surgeries that cis men can have that are covered,” Sagan said. “And it’s such a fight, it’s such a fight to just be able to have the basics of trans folx.”

Colorado Medicaid currently covers gender affirming care, but it is not a federal requirement for state Medicaid programs to do so.

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