Transgender medical coverage available for CU employees; not equally attainable for students

Feb. 23, 2015

Evan Musick
[email protected]

CU-system employees who consider themselves transgender will be able to have gender confirming operations covered by insurance provided by the University of Colorado beginning July 1, according to Boulder newspaper Daily Camera.

With this new coverage, faculty and staff will be able to have access to some level of transgender related medical coverage, whether that includes hormone shots or surgical operations.

In terms of student coverage, options vary. At CU-Boulder, students are covered up to $10,000, explained LGBT program director of MOSAIC Vanessa Delgado.

For UCCS this does not mean students are covered.

“It’s not for students. It’s for faculty and staff. It’s system wide, so that includes our faculty and staff. And I think that’s really important,” Delgado said.

Stephanie Hanenberg, executive director of Health Services said in an email that the differences between CU-Boulder and UCCS student medical plans are drastically different. CU-Boulder has a mandatory medical coverage policy while UCCS has a voluntary policy for students.

She wishes that UCCS students’ medical plans, which are provided by Aetna Life Insurance Company, would include access to transgender related medical support.

“I wish we could say that we had the option to add that coverage as well,” Hanenberg said.

“They are able to make plan changes and look at how it affects their premium, while we are on a set plan and unable to offer this coverage despite trying to. We ask [Aetna] every year, but unless something changes with voluntary plans, I don’t think this will be an option for us,” she said.

Although UCCS students aren’t currently covered for gender confirming operations, it doesn’t mean that support doesn’t exist for those who identify as transgender.

“What Boulder is doing is allowing for a certain amount of money for transition purposes,” said Delgado. “The types of services we provide are really support based.”

She pointed out that if a transgender student is taking hormone shots, the Student Health Center will work with that student to have the shots delivered to UCCS.

Delgado mentioned the support that MOSAIC offers can range from legal, medical and social support. This could include help with changing names, driver’s licenses, birth certificates and social security cards.

“It gets very tricky for trans students as they begin to transition in terms of the legal ‘what are you asking me here for? Are you asking me for how I identify or the legal thing on my driver’s license?’” she said.

But medical coverage is still a concern.

Delgado mentioned that in the past, medical procedures needed for transgender students such as estrogen, testosterone, hormone therapy or surgical procedures, was not and is still not covered by many health plans due to the treatments and procedures being deemed as elective and not necessary.

Delgado pointed out that because of this, those seeking to confirm their gender have turned to alternative methods.

“What people started to do was buy off the streets, buy it online, things like that, and that can cause a lot of problems,” she said.

She explained that students need to be under the care of medical professionals.

Students interested in more information or medical resources can contact MOSAIC at 255-3040 or the Student Health Center at 255-4444.