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Indybay Feature

Victory at UCSC! GSHIP and USHIP will cover transgender healthcare

by via uaw-quad.org
We just learned today that the UCSC administration officially accepted the joint proposal of GSA, UAW and STIHC (Students for Trans-Inclusive Healthcare) for GSHIP (Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan) and USHIP (Undergraduate Student Health Insurance Plan) benefits. Effective this fall, GSHIP and USHIP will include a $75,000 lifetime benefit for transgender healthcare.
This is a significant achievement, since both plans at Santa Cruz will offer a larger benefit than at any other UC or at Stanford or Caltech (at least so far). In the face of major budget cuts, we not only held the line on our health care -- we got a major improvement in coverage. GSHIP coverage will now be more fair and it will help more graduate students.

How did it happen? It took some planning and united action from different constituencies. It started with a push from STIHC, a group that united undergraduates and graduates pushing for inclusive healthcare in our respective university insurance plans. STIHC organized and won support from UAW-QUAD and from the GSA (in particular the GSHIP committee). Those groups did research, prepared proposals, and mobilized students to tell their story to the UCSC administration.

Congratulations to STIHC for making this a great day for all grad students. And let's hope their campaign can be a model to improve USHIPs and GSHIPs throughout UC.
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by via STIHC, UCSC
We'd like to share wonderful news from the University of California Santa
Cruz campus! In fall 2008 our student healthcare plans will include
coverage for services related to transgender transition. Removing the
"transgender exclusions" ends a profound discrimination against transgender
students, bringing UCSC into alignment with both state law and university
policy, which prohibit discrimination based on Gender Identity. Students
who require these medically necessary services now will be able to move
forward with their lives, and all members of the UCSC community will benefit
from a more fully welcoming campus.

Since September 2007, undergraduates and graduate students in Students for
Transgender-Inclusive Health Care (STIHC) have sought health coverage
changes to better meet the needs of all UCSC students. The profound negative
impact of the transgender exclusions led the coalition to prioritize the needs of
transgender students. STIHC efforts succeeded thanks to allies in both
undergraduate and graduate student governments, and support of the outgoing
Health Center director. Members and officers of UAW 2865, representing
Academic Student Employees in the UC system, also gave crucial support to
STIHC including passage of a resolution pledging to fight for inclusive
coverage on all campuses.

STIHC learned first hand from students the profound, even
life-saving, difference inclusive coverage will bring, and how high the long-term costs
of denying transition-related treatment can be: without access to transition
many suffer depression, suicidality, and other persistent health problems,
even substance abuse. STIHC's research also shredded myths and showed fears
of expensive claims costs are unfounded: only a tiny fraction of UCSC will
likely need these services. Since 2001 the City and County of San Francisco
has offered inclusive coverage, budgeting up to $1.75 million a year to
cover 35 claims per year for 80,000 people insured. In five years, fewer
than 20 had filed claims (mostly non-surgical) totaling under $390,000.
Other employers report similarly low figures. Since many transgender
individuals also report dramatically improved health even in the first year
of transition, these numbers suggest not only that UCSC claims costs
for transition-related care are likely to be low, but also that such costs
may be offset by lowered health costs elsewhere.

The transgender-inclusive coverage in the UCSC Undergraduate and Graduate
Student Health Insurance Plans (USHIP and GSHIP) plans is structured
similarly to coverage already available to staff and faculty at the
University of California through all of their plans. Claims for transgender
transition-related services will be subject to the current $75,000 lifetime
cap and will cover medically necessary surgeries and services, including
reimbursement for travel and other expenses if necessary for seeing
specialty services.

In making this change, UC Santa Cruz joins the increasing number of college
campuses to offer transgender-inclusive student health plans, including UC
San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, and UC San Diego, as well as the University
of Michigan, University of Washington, and Washington University in St.
Louis, and others. STIHC activist Matthew Palm, has this to say about
STIHC's recent success: "Let's get together to eliminate discrimination at
the other UC campuses! STIHC would love to work with allies at any UC
campus, and at other universities and colleges as well, to end
discrimination in health care. Contact us if you are interested in
organizing for health care rights!"

Contact:
Sara Smith
Students for Transgender-Inclusive Health Care, UC Santa Cruz
Sarars2 [at] gmail.com
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