We in the Trans Equity Working Group are happy to report that, in response to the health care survey that many of you participated in last quarter, we have opened discussions with UW Benefits and LifeWise about the issues of unclear policy documents, denial of coverage, and inadequate staff training that have been widely reported. Following a positive exploratory meeting last December, we held another meeting February 1st with UW Benefits, Labor Relations, a Premera psychiatrist responsible for implementing trans health policies, and a Lifewise representative to clarify the existing policy and covered services, customer service representative training, and open conversation into expanding the current list of ‘medically necessary’ benefits. We proposed changes of language in the plan’s summary of benefits to provide an inclusive list of covered services, drafting a reader-friendly transgender healthcare and resources information sheet, updated staff training, and a transparent explanation as to the discrepancy in the classification of “medically necessary” versus “cosmetic” procedures across Premera plans and policy documents. UW Benefits also agreed to schedule a meeting to address the many trans competency concerns you raised with the Executive Director of Hall Health.
Moving forward, in order to bolster our case for truly equitable coverage, we are collecting more details about cases in which transition-related health benefits have been poorly explicated or denied during the past year. We would like to invite anyone who would be willing and able to provide more information about a specific interaction they have had with LifeWise or Hall Health to share their experiences via another Catalyst survey. The more evidence the community can provide to demonstrate that our insurer and Primary Care Center are falling short of addressing many of our health needs, the more likely we can achieve meaningful progress. Dates for these incidents and any follow-up actions you have taken, as well as specific language of phone/email/mail communications, would all help immensely.
We realize that this is an intensely personal subject, and thus our open-ended single-question Catalyst survey will be totally anonymous. It can be found at:
If anyone is comfortable sharing their experiences in greater detail, has questions about specific coverage, or would like support with an appeal, we invite you to include an email by which we can contact you in the Catalyst survey field. Personal information will only be available to the eight current members of the Trans Equity Working Group, and will not be shared. You are also welcome to get in touch with us via email at Trans-Equity@uaw4121.org.
Finally, on a happier note, we imagine you’d like to know who we are, and we’d love to meet some of our fellow trans UW students—hence we are hosting a coffee hour on Friday, February 12th, from 2-4pm in Smith Hall 320. Finally, if you would like to get involved with the Trans Equity Working Group we encourage you to attend our upcoming meeting Friday, February 5 from 3-4pm in Smith 320. And thank you again for your participation in our efforts to make UW a safer and healthier place for trans folks like us!
Your Trans Equity Working Group