AMA: Insurance Should Cover Treatment for Infertility Caused by Gender-Affirming Care

Alison Sherwood

June 17, 2022

CHICAGO — Health insurance should cover treatment for infertility caused by gender-affirming medical interventions, the American Medical Association (AMA) said Monday at its House of Delegates meeting.

Speaking on behalf of the Medical Student Section, Justin Magrath, of Louisiana, said, "We as a section feel that these interventions should be considered as additional causes of iatrogenic infertility and be covered by insurance."

Iatrogenic infertility is infertility caused by surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other medically necessary treatment. The AMA voted June 13 to support including the phrase, "impaired fertility as a consequence of gender-affirming hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery," in that definition.

The AMA also supports access to fertility preservation services for people who undergo those treatments.

"I've had many friends who went through transitions and gender-affirming care and had no idea that these options were available, and others who did know they were available but they were so expensive that they couldn't access them," said emergency medicine resident Sophia Spadafore, MD, delegate for the Resident and Fellow Section. "So while people might be able to access gender-affirming care, sometimes they have to make the decision between future fertility and having children and accessing this kind of lifesaving care that we support."

The AMA already had policies that support insurance coverage of treatments for gender dysphoria and the right to seek fertility preservation services for people who undergo gender-affirming hormone therapy or surgery, but until this week, it had not address ed insurance coverage for preserving fertility in those cases.

"The transgender population already faces many barriers to care, such as provider discrimination, legal concerns, financial burden, and emotional cost," Magrath said during a reference committee hearing on June 11. "We as a section ask our organization to continue to serve as an ally providing equitable care for diverse populations and expanding coverage for medically necessary treatments."

"I am a gender surgeon, so this is pretty important to me," said Sean Figy, MD, of Nebraska, a delegate for the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery.

The original resolution included the words "medically necessary" when referring to gender-affirming treatments, and Figy expressed hesitancy about those words. An amendment removed them.

"I've seen that phrase weaponized against gender-nonconforming patients," he said.

Ophthalmologist Charles Hickey, MD, of the Ohio delegation, spoke in favor of referral or of waiting to adopt the resolution.

"I think the different amendments being discussed here are evidence that this needs a more thorough and careful treatment than we can do at this point right now," he said.

Alison Sherwood is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist and features writer and editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where she was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting.

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