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Many healthcare professionals tell their patients they can’t help them because their insurance won’t cover it.

We approached the leading insurance companies in the UK and Ireland to ask them to clarify their position in this regard. Their replies can be seen on our Professional Indemnity page

Evidence shows that those wishing to transition benefit from a gender affirmative approach to care. The medications prescribed for gender affirmation are guided by international bodies such as WPATH and the Endocrine Society. Gender affirmative care is common practice in centres of excellence worldwide.

Yet a sense of fear, often driven by a lack of clear guidelines in the UK continues to prevent healthcare practitioners from feeling confident enough to act, despite the evidence showing that it is in the patient’s best interest. This is especially the case with younger trans individuals seeking medical help with their transition.

Key questions are asked and the lack of an answer leads to paralysis:

  • What if they change their mind?
  • What if the treatment leads to infertility?
  • Should we be medicating children in this way?

No healthcare practitioner wants to make a mistake or risk legal or regulatory action being taken against them and so they err on the side of “caution”. Playing safe, ‘just in case’. This is an approach which is reinforced by the medical indemnity providers who, when it comes to more potentially contentious areas of treatment, rather than spell it out, tend to keep things vague. They certainly don’t want to fund court and tribunal hearings, so they side-step the issue and their members can feel unsupported.

But where does this leave the transgender patient? They are all too often denied treatment that will help them live their lives more easily.

When it comes to treatment, upon hearing the full facts – both the positives and the negatives – many trans people feel that the benefits of living as their authentic selves, far outweigh the risks of taking medication to achieve that goal.

What we need is clarity. We need insurance companies to provide clear guidance on the matter so that healthcare practitioners can feel secure that they are adequately insured to carry out their role.

Evidence-based, published guidance is readily available. Here are some key publications which lay out the recommended treatment protocols for transgender people, of all ages:

 

WPATH Standards of Care

UCSF - Guidelines

Endocrine Society - Clinical Practice Guideline

Australian Standards of Care

New Zealand - Guidelines for Gender Affirming Healthcare

 

More information is available on our Medical Hub.