Georgia To Cover Gender-Affirming Care In Health Plans

The state of Georgia has reached a settlement in a lawsuit that will require it to provide coverage for gender-affirming care in health plans for its employees and their families. This move comes after the state faced legal challenges over its previous exclusion of such services.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, two state employees and a public school employee, all of whom identify as male and sought surgery to remove their breasts, have taken the decision to dismiss the case in Atlanta federal court following the settlement with Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan.

This state insurance plan, which extends its coverage to over 660,000 state government workers, public school employees, and retirees, will now be responsible for covering transgender medical services for employees, their spouses, and their dependents.

The lawsuit initially filed back in December, alleged that Georgia’s health insurance plan had engaged in illegal discrimination against individuals identifying as transgender. 

The lawsuit argued, “The exclusion not only harms the health and finances of transgender people seeking gender dysphoria treatment, it also reinforces the stigma attached to being transgender, suffering from gender dysphoria, and seeking a gender transition.” 

It further emphasized that this exclusion communicated a message of inequality from the state government.

This settlement has implications beyond Georgia’s borders. As part of the settlement, Georgia will provide coverage for transgender medical services for children living out of state, even though such services are banned within Georgia after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill to that effect in March.

Additionally, the state has agreed to pay $365,000 to the plaintiffs and their legal representatives. The plaintiffs had argued that they incurred personal expenses for services that they believed should have been covered by the insurance plan.

In their initial complaint, the plaintiffs argued that excluding gender-affirming care from the State Health Benefit Plan’s coverage violated Title VII rights, as established by the Supreme Court’s Bostock v Clayton County ruling in 2020, which clarified that Title VII’s prohibition of workplace discrimination based on gender also protected transgender individuals.

This lawsuit is one of several that have been brought against Georgia’s state agencies in an effort to compel them to cover transgender medical services. It is important to note that the debate around these services involves considerations of serious health risks, including potential infertility, blood clots, heart issues, cancer risks, liver dysfunction, psychological well-being, and other significant health concerns.