CU to Cover Transition Surgeries for Transgender Employees

Updated Feb 9, 2015

BOULDER, Colo.— The University of Colorado expects to soon begin covering the cost of transition surgery for transgender faculty and staff, the Daily Camera reported Friday

In a story Friday, the Camera said when new insurance plans take effect with the start of the fiscal year on July 1, a new benefit will likely be coverage of gender confirmation surgeries for those whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

“We want to make sure that our benefit offerings in general are competitive and that they’re comparable to what other universities are offering their staff as well as making sure that it mirrors or is very similar to what our students also receive,” Kathy Nesbitt, CU’s vice president for employee and information services, told the Camera.

CU-Boulder students in the university’s health insurance plan already receive coverage for such surgery up to $10,000.

The projected cost of providing the benefit for faculty and staff in the first year is $247,000, or a quarter of 1 percent of total claims. That is expected to drop to around $100,000 in the second year, Nesbitt said.

“Because we haven’t had this as a benefit, there may be people waiting who couldn’t afford to do it out of pocket,” she said. “But after that first year, the number drops because there’s no longer a backlog.”

Faculty, staff and students already have health insurance coverage for hormone replacement therapy, so coverage for gender confirmation procedures was the last health care equality “hurdle” at CU, Scarlet Bowen, who directs the GLBTQ Resource Center on the Boulder campus, told the Camera. The center supports people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and their allies and has lobbied for the new benefit.

“We’re very clear about not discriminating on the basis of gender identity and gender expression in our policies on campus,” Bowen said. “This is just the fullest implementation of having a nondiscriminatory environment that’s providing everyone equal access to health care. They can’t deny services to someone whose identity requires these services. Because this health care is so tied to people’s identities, it’s actually discriminatory not to offer it.”