Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Facial Femization Surgery: The Insurance Blues

It started last Wednesday. Upon coming home from work I checked the mail and saw a letter from my insurance company. Before I even walked my dogs, I tore it open. And though I kinda knew what it was going to say, I still shook my head in annoyance and disbelief. The insurance company had denied coverage for my facial feminizaiton surgery. They had decided that this was purely cosmetic and thus not covered by my policy.

Though I knew intellectually that this sucked, I was numb. This numbness had been building for a good month or so. It had been a non stop back and forth between my surgeon, my general practitioner, mental health professionals, and my cardiologist. First I had to get three letters, then they needed to be updated. Then the insurance requested a fourth letter. Then I ended up playing a frustrating game of telephone where my surgeon and my cardiologist were talking through their receptionists, then me, then other receptionists, then practitioners and surgical coordinators. Getting any single document was a completely frustrating experience. Once I had finally gotten everything I was left utterly drained.

At home that night, I was by myself. Kath was out with coworkers and I was alone. I wanted to cry. But I couldn't. Finally I resorted to watching especially emotional video clips on YouTube. The power speech from the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Whip It trailer, and what finally got me was Jennifer Garner's speech in Love Simon, the one where she first talks to her son about his coming out.


Once the tears came I started to sob and I kept sobbing, just letting it all out.


And I took a picture. And I shared it on Instagram. Why? Because I always share my best. That's what everyone on the internet does right? That's social media. We all share our happy vacation pics, our best photos with our best makeup, us having great fun and us being fancy. Well, I didn't want to show that. I wanted to, for once, not show the polished me, but rather the real emotion. No filters.

Transition isn't always perfect. Sometimes you will break down. Sometimes you will be so overwhelmed with emotion that you feel numb and have to force yourself to break down. Sometimes you'll have to submit tons of letters with embarrassing, super personal details about your life and emotions to faceless insurance company bureaucrats only to be told that your pain is about nothing but superficial vanity.

There's something I always say, on Gender Rebels or to the listeners who write up. Transition is the time when you discover how strong you really are and how strong you always have been. And it is. I really think that is true.

At this point in my transition, I'm discovering just how utterly true that really is. Though a part of me was relieved to get denied. It meant that the frustration might end. But, I'm going to keep going. Already I've reached out to a lawyer who specializes in this sort of case. So I'm going to do a formal written appeal as well as an external appeal through the state.

My new date is in July. So, let's see. I'm drained, I'm exhausted, I'm super frustrated with the endless bureaucracy, but I'm going to keep fighting. Wish me luck.

10 comments:

  1. Faith -

    I know you will pull through and overcome these obstacles. Don't let the assholes get you down. That's how they win. Persistence will help you win, as that will wear down the resistance of those who get in your way....

    Good Luck.

    Marian

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    1. Hi Marian, I'm totally persisting! And lawyering up too. :)

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  2. Good luck, Faith! I believe in you.

    Insurance companies are blood sucking shits (#notallinsurancecompanies?) and are only looking to deny claims and keep their cash. You have to make them listen. You have to make them give you the service that you've paid for.

    You can do this. I believe in you.

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    1. Totally agree with you about insurance companies. If only there were some way to have health care without for-profit insurance companies being involved...you think someone like the rest of the world would have figured it out by now. Guess not. :)

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  3. I'm glad you decided to keep going. It makes me happy to see others push forward even though i'm stuck in a rut of uncertainty in my point of transition.

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    1. Transition is a huge decision. It's not an easy one to make. Took me 35 years. You know what's best for you and if transition is right, you'll start it when you're ready.

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  4. Very timely post for me, too. My insurance carrier, Kaiser-WA, is also denying coverage of my facial surgeries in spite of my providing similar documentation from my medical and mental health professionals. I'm continuing to appeal but I don't hold out much hope. I paid out of pocket for it and had the surgery two weeks ago. I'm very lucky that I could afford it.

    My sense is that the main issue is whether or not there is state legislation that forces the carriers to cover their trans patients. In California, for example, Kaiser-CA seems to have fairly liberal coverage. I'm in Washington state where I'm told we have requirements for GCS and breast augmentation, both of which I've also received.

    I was in Washington DC about a month ago to meet with senators and house members as part of HRC's annual Lobby Day. I discussed my situation with several and received a lot of vocal support. I intend to follow up with them, asking them to consider sponsoring federal legislation that addresses this issue across the US.

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    1. Thank you so much for fighting the good fight on this, Emma. You rock!

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  5. Wife has MS and we have had battles with our insurance companies over her care. When we persisted, we often succeeded, so don't throw in the towel, Faith. I wish you luck and pray for your success.

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    1. Stana, sorry to hear you have to have your own battles over something as basic as your wife's health. That's awful. Wish you the best as well. <3

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