Princeton subsidizes ‘trans care’ through health plan

Princeton University is offering medical coverage for “trans care” expenses to students enrolled in its healthcare plan.

According to a Princeton University Health Services (UHS) web page titled “Trans Care at UHS,” the school is “committed to continue our efforts to increase inclusive and comprehensive medical services specific to the trans community.”

“Consultations and prescriptions for masculinizing and feminizing hormones” are available to students at UHS, the website notes, describing such treatments as a “primary care service” and a “medical necessity for many trans individuals.”

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Similarly, UHS explains that it can also provide “information and referrals for surgical transition-related care” and other “comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services.”

The website further notes that “gender affirmation surgery” has been covered under the school’s Student Health Plan (SHP) since September 2014, adding that coverage caps were removed one year later.

According to the 2018-2019 SHP Design and Benefits Summary, transgender-related expenses, including “charges incurred by a covered person for medically necessary surgery, mental health, prescription drugs, and other related services,” are covered at a rate of “80% of the Negotiated Charge.”

“We are continuing to work with Aetna”—which administers the SHP through its Student Health division—“on improving the reimbursement process for transgender covered benefits,” the website continues.

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UHS record-keeping systems also allow students to “indicate a gender identity different from that which you have reported to the University,” and to “specify your pronouns.” 

Likewise, all staff at UHS “participate in professional development trainings and activities to increase knowledge and care regarding issues that affect our transgender and/or gender non-conforming students and dependents.”

Princeton requires each student to enroll in the SHP unless “comparable coverage under another plan” can be certified. Students on the SHP who also receive financial aid from the university may request additional assistance to “help cover the cost” of enrollment, which is $1,800 per year.

Students who wish to opt-out of the SHP must show that their own insurance covers at least 80 percent of the cost of services like emergency room visits, surgical treatment, ambulance expenses, and mental health care, but the school does not specify that alternative plans must also cover transgender-related care.

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University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss told Campus Reform that UHS is “committed to advancing the health and well-being of the diverse Princeton University community,” asserting that “one way UHS does this is by providing inclusive, comprehensive health services for all students.”

“UHS has made great strides over the last few years to increase services specific to the trans student population,” he added. “For example, in August 2016, UHS began providing masculinizing and feminizing hormone therapy—a primary care service and a medical necessity for many trans individuals.”

Insurance provider Aetna declined Campus Reform’s request for comment, and neither Princeton nor Aetna would provide an estimate of how much it costs the university to cover expenses related to “trans care” under the SHP.