Medicare victory: Sex reassignment surgery at 74

Medicare victory: Sex reassignment surgery at 74

Denee Mallon marveled at the view of Lake Michigan from her hospital bed in the Windy City, where she had just made history: the then 74-year-old transgender woman underwent a milestone sex reassignment surgery she’d sought for decades. “Here I am, finally, after all these years,” she said. “It happened.”

Her operation will be one of the first paid for by Medicare after she won a challenge in May to end the government insurance program’s ban on covering such procedures for transgender individuals. Mallon’s victory opened the door for other seniors to access this care and may influence whether more insurers – private and public – will cover them. LGBT advocates also hailed her case as another step forward to securing equal rights for transgender people. …

For Mallon, life – work, five kids and three marriages – had gotten in the way of having sex reassignment surgery. When she could afford it in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she couldn’t get her doctors to approve it. They balked, she said, because she was having sex with women – which they felt was inconsistent with her needing the operation. By the time she got the okay in the late 1980s, she could no longer afford it. …

Her decision to take on Medicare came after she was denied sex reassignment surgery by her secondary private insurer and then the government insurance program. Male-to-female transitions can run about $25,000; for female-to-male transitions it’s around $100,000. Such costs are prohibitively expensive for many on Medicare. Mallon, for example, lives on $650 a month in Social Security income and shares a trailer with another transgender woman.

Continue reading →


Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

You may use HTML in your comments. Feel free to review the full list of allowed HTML here.