By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com January 15 2014 10:55 AM ET
The federal Office of Personnel Management is in the process of evaluating its healthcare benefit program offered to agency employees — specifically looking into exclusions for transition-related care often sought by transgender workers.
Should OPM opt to add transition-specific coverage to insurance policies, it would become the first federal agency to do so, and the change could have far-reaching implications. OPM manages healthcare insurance for federal workers nationwide through its Federal Employee Health Benefit Program, meaning transition-related care could be covered for all federal employees if the policy is updated.
Transition-related care may consist of hormone replacement therapy, mental health services, and gender-confirming surgeries. These services, currently excluded under federal health insurance plans, can end up costing an individual tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, putting the medically necessary treatment outside the financial reach of many of those who need it most.
According to Federal Times, any changes to OPM's insurance policies will be shown as coverage options in future policy offerings.
In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is evaluating whether or not the exclusion of transition-related care in health insurance plans actually constitutes a violation of federal law. The agency's findings could lead to increased trans coverage in insurance plans nationwide.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story understated the scope of employees who could be impacted by a potential policy change. The Advocate regrets this error.