March 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. to enforce ban on insurance bias
Sterling Washington, Vince Gray, Washington D.C., gay news, Washington Blade, Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs

Sterling Washington of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking announced on March 15 that it would immediately begin enforcing an existing city law that prohibits health insurance companies from denying or limiting insurance coverage based on someone’s gender identity or expression.

In a new directive issued that day, the DISB said insurance companies found to have exclusionary language in application forms for health insurance policies pertaining to transgender patients would have 90 days to remove that language from the forms. Such exclusionary provisions pertaining to transgender people that violate the law could no longer be enforced by the companies, the directive says.

“Prior to this new directive being issued, numerous health insurance companies operating in the District had explicit policies that excluded transgender women and men from many of the same services that they provided to their non-transgender patients,” a statement released by the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs says.

“Some of the services denied to transgender individuals, but approved for other patients, included mastectomies for breast cancer, hormone replacement therapy, and high blood pressure medications,” the statement says.

According to the statement, the new directive informs insurance companies that the city’s Unfair Trade Practices Act includes explicit language prohibiting health insurance companies from discriminating against people based on gender identity and expression as well as other categories, such as sexual orientation, race and ethnicity.

“With the issuance of this directive, the District becomes one of the first places to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression in health care and insurance,” the Office of GLBT Affairs statement says.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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