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Non-transgender students may have access to UC-Berkeley’s transgender benefits

Berkeley will not require testimony from mental health professionals before administering trans fertility preservation benefit

The University of California-Berkeley announced last month that its Student Health Insurance Plan will offer fertility preservation and laser hair removal for transgender students.

Another demographic may be able to get the same free treatment, however: all other students.

It appears the university has no way to verify an individual’s transgender status before using the benefits intended for transgender patients, based on statements by a University Health Service spokesperson and insurance documents reviewed by The College Fix.

The expanded coverage is intended in part to treat transgender people who plan to undergo hormone therapy, because “fertility preservation offers safer alternatives” than halting hormone use in order to conceive a child, according to The Daily Californian.

Asked if the university has a system in place to limit the fertility preservation benefit to transgender students, spokesperson Kim Jarboe Lapean of the UHS Tang Center told The College Fix that the benefits “apply to anyone with medical necessity,” including patients “with ovarian cancer who may also want fertility preservation.”

It’s not the university’s role to “define or determine medical necessity,” Lapean said in an email, but rather its insurance carrier, Anthem: “Their determination is based on the diagnosis submitted with the referral, and in some cases, supporting documentation is required.”

In contrast to most other transgender insurance benefits, however, fertility preservation does not require “a letter of support from a counselor or therapist,” Lapean wrote.

Reached for comment, Anthem spokeswoman Lori McLaughlin told The Fix that its medical policy criteria for the treatment of infertility “addresses the underlying cause of infertility, not whether a member is transgender.”

Presented with Anthem’s reply, Lapean forwarded The Fix a statement from the university’s “Anthem contacts.” It says Anthem administers benefits that are:

in accordance with generally accepted standards of medical practice; and
– clinically appropriate in terms of type, frequency, extent, site and duration and considered effective for the Insured’s illness, injury or disease; and
– not primarily for the convenience of the Insured, Physician or other health care Provider; and
– not more costly than an alternative service or sequence of services at least as likely to produce equivalent therapeutic or diagnostic results as to the diagnosis or treatment of that Insured’s illness, injury, or disease.

Nothing in the Anthem statement provided by Lapean verified that either Anthem or the university will screen patients for transgender identity before providing them free fertility preservation and laser hair removal services.

The university last year added “male-to-female top surgery” to its $1,415-per-semester Student Health Insurance Plan, according to The Daily.

Universities including Duke, Vanderbilt, Cornell, Minnesota, Yale and Brown cover sex change operations. Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a safer college environment for LGBTQ students, claims that 76 colleges cover hormones and gender-affirming surgeries for students.

MORE: Yale Considers Covering Sex Change Surgery

MORE: Public University Hikes Student Fees To Fund Sex-Change Operations

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About the Author
Ben Decatur -- University of Michigan