If you've recently made the decision to transition from your biological gender to your natural gender, you may feel like you're facing a complicated maze of personal and legal decisions. One area that may often go overlooked is health insurance -- however, your ability to purchase and maintain insurance that covers the treatments and medications you need while transitioning can be crucial to your physical and mental health. As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to expand (with its provisions forbidding insurance providers from discriminating on the basis of gender identity), some aspects of the insurance maze may be made simpler, while others become much more nuanced. Read on to learn more about your rights and coverage options as a transgendered American.

What are your rights with regard to health insurance?

The Affordable Care Act strengthened a number of existing protections for transgendered individuals. Some states have strengthened these rights even further, requiring health insurance providers to cover certain gender reassignment procedures. Regardless of where in the U.S. you reside, your healthcare rights include:

  • The right to have any medical information related to your gender transition held in strictest confidence by healthcare professionals (including a prohibition on releasing information on your transition to your employer, even if you purchase healthcare through your employer);
  • The right to be able to purchase a health insurance plan that covers routine tests and procedures, just as these procedures are covered for the cis-gendered;
  • The right to receive treatment at any licensed hospital in the U.S. without discrimination on the basis of gender or sex; and
  • The right to have your healthcare issues discussed in a private setting.

What should you do if you're beginning the transition from one gender to another?

If you're just starting your journey, you may be wondering where to begin. Many individuals start with hormone treatment, helping you to develop some of the hallmarks of the opposite gender (such as a higher or deeper voice, or the presence or absence of facial hair).

Because you have the right to receive medical care without discrimination, when you visit your doctor to request assistance in transitioning genders, he or she must outline the available possibilities for you if you wish to transition (including any side effects). He or she should be able to prescribe any medications that are commonly used to help individuals undergoing gender reassignment, unless such medications are contraindicated with any existing medications or medical conditions.

However, these medications may not be covered by your current insurance plan. Contact your insurance provider to determine if hormone treatment is covered; if it is not, you may investigate the purchase another health insurance plan on your state's insurance exchange. Most exchanges will offer detailed information about what each plan covers, from hormone treatment to gender reassignment surgery, allowing you to make an educated choice. You may also want to enlist the services of an experienced insurance agent who can help you find the best plan for your situation.

What should you know about health insurance and gender reassignment surgery?

If you've already been undergoing hormone therapy and are interested in finalizing the process by undergoing surgery, it's important to find out which aspects of your aftercare will be covered, and at what rate. Even if your existing plan covers the gender reassignment surgery itself, you may need follow-up therapy to help you fully heal, and this treatment may be subject to a co-pay or higher deductible. If your treatment and aftercare spans more than one plan year, you could also be required to meet your deductible or maximum out of pocket payment for two years before full coverage will kick in. Just as with other medical procedures, it pays to do your homework -- and when it comes to pricey gender reassignment surgery, doing your homework could save you tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs. For more information about insurance and your options, check out sites like http://www.laprescali.com.