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Florida Anti-Trans Bill could raise Everyone’s Health Insurance Costs

THE PRESIDENT-LED Some of the most severe anti-trans legislation to pass the far-right parliament thus far was voted by the Florida House last week. A bill that would have required state identification documents to solely indicate an individual’s given gender at birth, excluding transgender persons from possessing valid driver’s licenses, garnered significant media attention. The “trans erasure bill” is the moniker given to the plan.

House Bill 1639, the same piece of legislation, would also impose a number of harmful regulations on private health insurance coverage. Though these parts of the proposed bill have not received as much media attention, they might have a significant effect since they run the danger of driving up the cost of health insurance for all residents of the state.

The main issue here is not transgender individuals. Of course, the most heinous aspect of the anti-trans law is its clear goal of making transgender people’s access to essential health care and public life increasingly more difficult.

However, the realization that a Republican plan to eradicate transgender persons would harm the larger healthcare system serves as a warning that authority over GNC individuals necessitates authority over everyone else.

The trans erasure law requires that “conversion therapy,” a risky pseudoscientific method of altering a person’s sexual choices or gender identity, be covered by all private health insurance policies for all Floridians. Naturally, the measure doesn’t refer to it that way, but it’s simple to see what Florida Republicans are attempting to accomplish by translating the obfuscating wording and using bad grammar.

In order to address a person’s belief that their sex is inconsistent with their sex at birth, the measure “forbids health insurers and HMOs from prohibiting coverage of mental health and therapeutic services by affirming the person’s sex at birth.” In other words, therapy that maintains that a person with gender dysphoria should be forced to accept the gender they were assigned at birth is required to be covered by health insurance.

Debunked as a treatment, conversion therapy is outlawed in 2020 states and disapproved of by the American Medical Association. However, Florida individuals with private health insurance policies will have to pay for it to be covered if the trans erasing bill becomes law.

The precise cost of the “conversion therapy” mandate for Floridians with private insurance is unknown and has not been determined. Republicans conducted no study on the measure’s financial impact, even though state law mandates such an examination prior to the implementation of any health insurance mandate. It may not be widely known, however, that Florida Republicans are often adamantly opposed to the implementation of these regulations, which have typically been presented as ways to increase rather than decrease access to healthcare.

LGBTQ+ people and health advocates are aware of the cruel irony that the Florida GOP often opposes government mandates on health care coverage provisions but is in this case attempting to impose its own in the name of conversion therapy.

Everyone is paying a price for how far they have carried their culture-war attacks against trans people, according to Smith. He said to me, “If the human price wasn’t bad enough—and it should be—it’s hitting all our pockets.” Florida is one of “a handful of remaining states” that has refused to expand Medicaid, depriving 800,000 Floridians without insurance of coverage.

The legislature of Florida “recognizes that most mandated benefits contribute to the increasing cost of health insurance premiums,” according to a series of tweets from Smith citing the legal framework. However, he pointed out that “HB 1639 requires anti-trans ‘conversion therapy’ on all health care plans, regardless of the cost to Floridians.”

This is not really a contradiction. Republicans have traditionally used harsh austerity measures, expensive totalitarian bureaucracy, and law enforcement to further their three main objectives: property preservation, racial supremacy, and Christian nationalism.

The solution to the conversion treatment compulsion does not lie in asking Republicans to reject all government-mandated health care and stick to their austerity logic. Instead, the goal is to combat a strong, universal, free healthcare system that is less susceptible to the demands of conservative minority control.

Other measures in the Transerasure bill specifically aim at insurance plants that cover Gender-affirming care and require that any such plan provide coverage for “DE-transition” medication.  

To transition again is still to transition, so “de-transition” care should already be covered as gender-affirming health care. However, the law invites private insurers to view trans people as a source of risk and increase premiums accordingly or discontinue coverage of gender-affirming care entirely.

The measure makes it clear that insurance policies covering transgender health care may impose “an appropriate additional premium,” excluding transgender individuals from lower rates in order to pay for the care they require. Conversion treatment would cost more for all Floridians if it were covered by their insurance.

The Florida Senate has until the end of the week, or the conclusion of the legislative session, to take up the trans erasing law and other anti-trans legislation that was enacted by the House after it passed the House last week. The bill expires if the Senate ignores legitimate public concerns about the measure in the next few days.

That would be a tiny but crucial win in the Republican fight on transgender existence.

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