Oregon removes barriers to trans healthcare

The Insurance Division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) just announced that insurance companies doing business in Oregon must end discriminatory exclusions of medically-necessary healthcare for transgender Oregonians.

We all know someone who has been denied medically necessary care by an insurance company working to protect its bottom line. It’s unfair, painful, and downright dangerous when it happens. And for transgender people, these denials are often a fact of life.

Many transgender Oregonians are denied the ability to purchase health insurance or are denied coverage for basic, medically necessary care solely because they are transgender (watch a video of their stories below). These exclusions are wrong, discriminatory– and the Insurance Division has made it clear that this kind of discrimination has no place in Oregon.

The Insurance Division bulletin specifically states that:

  • Health insurers may not categorically exclude transgender patients from coverage.
  • Health insurers must provide coverage and cannot deny coverage of treatments for transgender policy holders if the same treatments are covered for other policy holders.
  • Health insurers may not deny treatment on the basis of a policy holder’s actual or perceived gender. That means that all policy holders can rely on annual exams, cancer screenings, and gender-specific health care, regardless of their gender on file.
  • The statewide mandate for coverage of mental health services must apply to transgender patients.

To learn more about this bulletin, or if you are denied care following this announcement, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions sheet and to the Insurance Division website.

After years of work on this issue, the Trans Justice team at Basic Rights Oregon is celebrating a tremendous victory for trans, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming Oregonians. Portland resident and Trans Justice Working Group member Ray Crider said,

For me, this coverage is preventive health care. As a transgender man, part of my daily routine is binding my chest to create a masculine appearance. This created health problems for me by restricting my breathing and causing inflammation in the wall of my lungs. As a result, I ended up in the emergency room several times for shortness of breath and chest pain. Doctors told me the only solution was to stop binding, but the surgery I needed ended up being the same cost as my emergency room visits. Transgender exclusions in insurance policies are a lose-lose proposition, and I’m glad they’re coming to an end.

Alley Hector

About Alley Hector

Alley Hector is proud to be a Q, a PDXer and Just Out's Editor-in-Chief.

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