Nondiscrimination Policies Save Lives

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Many private insurance plans exclude coverage for gender-affirming health care services, affecting the care received by gender minority patients.  States across the country have begun implementing nondiscrimination policies that prohibit gender discrimination by private insurers.

In JAMA Psychiatry, health policy PhD candidate Alex McDowell, RN, MSN, MPH, associate professor of health care policy Sherri Rose, PhD, and colleagues discuss the effect of these policies on the mental health of transgender and other gender diverse individuals.

Suicide rates in the United States are high among gender minorities. The study shows that, following the first year of implementation, nondiscrimination policies at the state level resulted in a decrease in suicidality among gender minority individuals.

“Science tells us that the stress people experience from discrimination can cause serious health problems, including mental health conditions and suicidality” said Alex McDowell, a student in the Ph.D. Program in Health Policy at Harvard University and lead author of the study. “Interactions with the health care system should improve the health of transgender and gender diverse individuals, rather than be an additional source of stress.”

The study team encourages policymakers to consider health insurance nondiscrimination policies as a pivotal tool in reducing barriers to care for gender minority individuals.

Portions of this article were taken from a piece featured in HMS News