Biden administration OKs Colorado expansion of transgender health coverage

Many private health insurance plans in Colorado will soon be required to cover “gender affirming care” for transgender patients under a landmark approval granted by the Biden administration.

For the first time, plans purchased on the state’s individual and small group markets — meaning employers with less than 100 workers —  will be required to cover transition-related care. The change would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

According to state figures, the small group and individual health insurance markets cover about 20 percent of Coloradans.

Biden administration officials said they hope Colorado can provide a model for other states to ensure access to potentially lifesaving care.

The treatments will include hormone therapy, genital reconstruction, face tightening, facial bone remodeling and other services.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a statement said it recognizes that expanded, gender-affirming coverage “vastly improves health care outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community, reduces high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts as well as decreases substance use, improves HIV medication adherence, and reduces rates of harmful self-prescribed hormone use.”

Past practice: The Biden administration earlier this year said it would reverse Trump-era limits on protections against health care discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Trump’s HHS kept protections against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, but it narrowed the definition of sex to only mean “biological sex,” specifically cutting out transgender people.