While researching Columbia’s healthcare plan for a piece on transgender CU students to be published in the Orientation issue of The Blue and White, Bwog discovered that contrary to reporting by The New York Times (with information gathered from the Transgender Law and Policy Institute), Columbia’s student health insurance plan does provide coverage for transition related expenses. This change was made last year and announced in a routine “benefit changes” file from the Aetna Student Health website. Innocuously listed under controversial upgrades such as “Allergy testing” and “Wisdom teeth extraction,” coverage for sexual reassignment surgery is now included for all students enrolled in the CU plan (the deadline to enroll for the 2013-14 school year is September 30th).
After a request, Columbia sent us this statement:
The Columbia Health Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee evaluates the student insurance plan each academic year and makes recommendations for changes that reflect current trends in healthcare, while providing an affordable, comprehensive plan to students. In 2012, the committee recommended to expand benefits for transgender students who enroll in the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan. These benefit changes were communicated to students in a variety of ways, such as online and in print materials.
Update: From Mary Joan L. Murphy, Executive Director of Barnard’s Student Health and Wellness Programs:
“Barnard’s student health plan does not cover any hormonal or surgical treatment for transgender [students], but to our knowledge, we have not had any student covered by the plan request these services.”
Update: Additionally, Barnard Health reports that Barnard students are not allowed to use the Columbia health plan for any medical reason or procedure.
Cold looking stethoscope via Shutterstock