Gender affirming facial surgery to be added to Jefferson County insurance benefits

Andrew Fraieli
afraieli@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/3/22

Facial gender-affirming surgery is set to be covered in the 2023 county employee benefits plan. The Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners passed the resolution approving the benefits Aug. 30.

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Gender affirming facial surgery to be added to Jefferson County insurance benefits

Posted

Facial gender-affirming surgery is set to be covered in the 2023 county employee benefits plan. The Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners passed the resolution approving the benefits Aug. 30.

In October of 2021, Colorado announced all health insurers it regulates must cover gender-affirming care by 2023, affecting plans for individuals and small group markets like employers with less than 100 employees.

This does not include employers like Jefferson County, though. FGAS was added to benefits because it was required by the county's insurer, Kaiser, according to Jeffco Human Resources Director Jennifer Fairweather.

Jefferson County’s benefits plan resolution only specifically includes facial surgery, which the plan defines as “medically necessary gender affirming facial surgery required for the treatment of gender dysphoria.”

FGAS is considered cosmetic in many states, according to one 2021 study on coverage of FGAS in Medicaid and commercial insurance across the country. Andrew Miller, an educator to doctors and others on equitable treatment at Denver Health, considers it a deeply affirming and necessary procedure, he told NPR at the time.

Health Equity and Training Director Marvyn Allen of One Colorado, an advocacy group for LGBTQ equality in Colorado, said similarly that being considered cosmetic causes these gender-affirming surgeries to be unaffordable.

“Based on our own research, we know that gender-affirming care is vital to the mental health of transgender and nonbinary Coloradans. For too many, gender-affirming care is unaffordable and unattainable,” Allen said in a statement last year.

Colorado already covers gender-affirming treatments under Medicaid, as do a few other states, but Colorado is the first state to have federal approval for gender-affirming healthcare coverage to be required in these private insurance plans.

Possible changes to the county’s 2023 benefits plan also include coverage for infertility treatment, mental health and substance abuse visits covered completely with no copay, and the county covering all premium increases in general.

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