A federal board ruled Friday in favor of a 74-year-old veteran seeking to have Medicare cover the costs of her gender reassignment surgery, a landmark decision that recognizes it as a necessary medical procedure.
As time magazine reports, “The decision by the Department of Health and Human Services overturns a longstanding rule preventing the government health insurance program from covering such procedures and opens the doors for other Medicare enrollees to make similar requests. It comes at a time when states are beginning to prohibit insurance companies from including specific exclusions for treatments related to gender transitions. So far, five states—California, Vermont, Oregon, Connecticut and Colorado, as well as Washington, D.C.—have prohibited such exclusions. Organizations like the Oakland, Calif.-based Transgender Law Center are fighting for more states to follow suit.
“Though numbers are far from concrete, studies estimate that that 0.5% of the U.S. population is transgender, meaning that they identify with a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth. Not all of the country’s estimated 1.5 million transgender citizens desire reassignment surgery, a serious procedure that alters a person’s sexual characteristics. That decision may depend on the desire to have children or physical preference, fear of surgery or having other health conditions that would make such surgery risky, as well as the cost of surgery.
“The National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a 2011 report that is the most comprehensive source for data on transgender-related issues, found that the majority of its 6,500 respondents desired surgery of some kind. However, many couldn’t afford to undergo such procedures. Continue reading “Medicare to cover reassignment”
The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that it will reconsider a longstanding denial of gender-confirming surgeries for transgender people on federally subsidized healthcare.
Since 1989, both Medicare and Medicaid, the federally-run health program for low-income families and individuals, have explicitly excluded the coverage of gender confirmation surgeries for transgender individuals, reports The Advocate
“Under National Coverage Determination 140.3, the programs have been exempted from covering these surgeries, though the data cited in the government’s justification is based on a 1981 National Center for Health Care Technology report. “Because of the lack of well controlled, long term studies of the safety and effectiveness of the surgical procedures and attendant therapies for transsexuals, the treatment is considered experimental,” reads the report in its explanation for why such procedures are not covered by insurance. “Moreover, there is a high rate of serious complications for these surgical procedures. For these reasons, transsexual surgery is not covered.”
“A lot has changed since 1981, however. The American Medical Association and American Psychological Association have since issued statements in support of gender-confirmation surgeries as a medical necessity and acceptable treatment for those suffering from gender dysphoria.
“In a ruling released December 2, the Department of Health and Human Services Departmental Appeals Board declared that the current National Coverage Determination record “is not complete and adequate to support the validity” of the determination excluding coverage for gender-confirming surgeries. The board determined that the 1981 report, which reviewed medical and scientific sources published between 1966 and 1980, is no longer “reasonable in light of subsequent developments.” Continue reading “Medicare reconsiders surgery rules”
Facial plastic surgery may turn back the hands of time, but new research suggests it may not, alas, boost attractiveness, reports a study discussed today in WebMD:
“For this small study, 50 strangers were asked to guess the age and subjectively rank the attractiveness of 49 patients after viewing photos of them either before or after facial plastic surgery.
“The bottom-line: Surgical intervention shaved a few years off perceived age but did almost nothing to boost patients’ overall attractiveness. What’s at issue is patients’ expectations, said study lead author Dr. Joshua Zimm, an attending surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Institute of North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York City.
“When we’re doing this kind of surgery I’m telling patients that they’ll look fresher, more energetic and less tired, and we have some data in the literature that indicates you will look younger, as we found,” Zimm said. “But clearly I cannot say that they will look more attractive.” He emphasized, however, that the findings represent the work of just one surgeon and that the study design had limitations. “This is not the final word on the subject,” Zimm said.
“But certainly I think you can take away from this that if you’re looking to have aesthetic facial surgery to look younger, we’ve shown that you will,” he said. “Beyond that … it is not clear that everyone will definitely look more attractive.”Zimm and his colleagues discussed their findings in the Aug. 1 online edition of the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. Continue reading “Looking younger but not better”