Can you imagine being refused health care simply for being who you are? Sadly, many of us don’t have to imagine at all. We all know someone who has been denied medically necessary care simply because of who they are – and that’s just plain wrong. Getting the care you need, when you need it isn’t too much to ask.
The good news? Just last week, our state took a huge step forward to rectify this injustice. After months of advocacy by One Colorado and Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) posted a bulletin stating that discrimination in health coverage based on sexual orientation – defined as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender status – is prohibited in our state. We applaud both DOI and the Hickenlooper administration for this announcement.
This bulletin is a victory for the health of all Coloradans. But it is an especially important step forward for transgender Coloradans, who are far too often denied the ability to purchase health insurance or are denied coverage for medically necessary care solely because they are transgender. This bulletin ensures health plans and insurance carriers in Colorado cannot refuse equal health coverage to individuals who are transgender. For more information on how this will help Coloradans, you can visit these frequently asked questions on One Colorado’s website.
In order to comply with existing Colorado law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status, health insurance plans sold in Colorado can no longer:
- Impose higher rates or charge more because of an applicant’s sexual orientation or transgender status.
- Designate an individual’s sexual orientation or transgender status as a pre-existing condition for the purpose of limiting or denying coverage; or
- Deny, exclude or limit coverage for medically necessary services as determined by an individual’s medical provider, if that service would be provided — based on current standards of care — to another individual without regard to their sexual orientation or transgender status.
No Coloradan, including those who are transgender, should be denied medically necessary health care when they need it.