Transgender Community Grows Frustrated Over Lack Of Access To Health Care
Services Remain Uncovered For Wisconsin's Transgender Employees
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Services Remain Uncovered For Wisconsin's Transgender Employees

Alexzandra Batts was one of the several hundred people to attend Green Bay’s 11th Annual Pride Alive event Saturday, July 14.

Batts, a 30-year-old transgender woman, discussed her frustration on navigating her private employer's health insurance program.

"Speaking as a black trans woman it's insanely difficult," Batts said. "I'm happy I have insurance, but it's not the right insurance and the more I try to find out answers the more confusing it gets."

Batts recently moved from Racine to Menasha and said she "feels bad" she doesn't know who her local officials are. 

If she knew them, she would ask them about health coverage for trans people.

"What would you do for people who are still trying to figure out the health care, especially the LGBT community and what would you do to make our state number one throughout the entire nation?" she asked, adding, "I remember a time when Wisconsin was number one, we beat out all the other states. Why are we number 50?"

And Batts isn't alone. 

"Speaking as a black trans woman it's insanely difficult," 30-year-old Alexzandra Batts said. "I'm happy I have insurance, but it's not the right insurance and the more I try to find out answers the more confusing it gets."

Jay Botsford of the Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition said both public and private employees have to navigate a complicated system when it comes to health care.

"If you're a state employee or an employee of one of the municipalities that's on the municipal plan, you have no coverage for anything related to transition for your health care," ze said. "And then for private individual and group plans it really depends on the employer or the individual plan that is offered on the exchange."

In 2016, the state Group Insurance Board approved coverage of services related to what it calls gender reassignment or sexual transformation.

But less than a year later, the board reversed its decision, affecting state employees like 24-year-old Sebastian Greenholtz, a trans man.

Sebastian Greenholtz, a 24-year-old trans man

Sebastian Greenholtz, a 24-year-old trans man. Bridgit Bowden/WPR

"The routine blood tests to test for levels of testosterone and estrogen in my blood went from costing me nothing to costing me upwards of $500," Greenholtz said.

On Wednesday, the state Group Insurance Board will meet to consider reinstating coverage for certain services for transgender employees.

The Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition is asking the state to cover surgery and hormones for sex reassignment.

"What we're really asking and advocating for is that the GIB will remove the exclusion, and so right now the exclusion is that all procedures, services, and supplies related to surgery and sex hormones associated with gender reassignments are not covered under the uniform benefits," Botsford said.

Greenholtz said he believes elected officials cannot relate to what is going on in his life or that of — say — women in search of birth control.

"It just drives me nuts that a person is empowered to make decisions about health care that does not affect them at all," he said.

The Group Insurance Board has until the end of the year to make coverage decisions. 

 

 

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