30 April 2012

Appealing For Care

Transgender health care isn't simply a matter of finding "sensitive" providers, as important as that is.  Rather, it is a matter of having our needs met.  In that sense, health care for us is no different from what it is for everyone else.  However, getting that care can be, to put it charitably, an adventure for some trans people.

Such was the case for Beth Scott of New Jersey.  She has just successfully appealed her health insurance company's denial of coverage for a mammogram she had nearly two years ago.  An official of the company, Aetna, apologized to Ms. Scott, saying, "[W]e have determined that the eligibility of the claim and plan benefits were misinterpreted." 

So what, exactly, was "misinterpreted"?  Well, Ms. Scott's plan, like most others, denies coverage for transgender care, including surgeries.  Apparently, someone thought that "transgender care" included Ms. Scott's mammogram, which she underwent under her doctor's recommendation.

I also have undergone mammograms my doctor recommended.  Fortunately for me, mine are paid for.  However, before I had my surgery--and before I had my current plan--I went one of the free mobile clinics that offers them.  Taking estrogen puts trans women at a greater risk for breast cancer, just as it does for cis women.  Although I wasn't, and have never been, what most people would call "rich," I gave a donation to the organization that provides the free mammograms.  (I still donate to them.)  In that clinic, I saw some destitute women--trans as well as cis--as well as some who looked as if they could have gone elsewhere.  I figure that I'm still better off than they are--or Ms. Scott is.

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