Illinois CHIP violating the Human Rights Act?

By , December 8, 2011 6:12 pm
I’ve been thinking about gender reassignment surgery, and decided to look into the position of my current health insurance, Illinoi’s IChip Program. Alas, IChip seems to be specifically prohibited from funding GRS. From their policy brochure, on page 32, item 17 ( it’s also the only thing that comes up if you search the document for ‘sexual’):
“CHIP will not pay for any expense or charge:” (pg 31) “for services, drugs or supplies that are for, or resulting from, surgery or surgeries performed in connection with sexual reassignment or gender transformation;” (pg 32)
Which would seem to mean I’m screwed. Except I’ve been reading and re-reading the Illinois Human Rights Act.
Bear with me. I’m not a lawyer, and I’m just kinda thinking out loud here…
From the Illinois HRA:
Sec. 1?102. Declaration of Policy. It is the public policy of this State: (A) Freedom from Unlawful Discrimination. To secure for all individuals within Illinois the freedom from discrimination against any individual because of his or her race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, order of protection status, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, or unfavorable discharge from military service in connection with employment, real estate transactions, access to financial credit, and the availability of public accommodations.
TRANSLATION: You can’t discriminate on the basis of any of those categories, including “sexual orientation,” which is defined as:
“Sexual orientation” means actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender?related identity, whether or not traditionally associated with the person’s designated sex at birth. “Sexual orientation” does not include a physical or sexual attraction to a minor by an adult.
TRANSLATION: Transgender people are covered under the Illinois HRA, even if through some odd redefining of terms.
So, we’ve established I’m covered by the HRA. Good. But how can I say denying me surgery coverage is discriminatory? Well, then we get to Article 4, about “Financial Credit.” What? How could that be relevant? Behold:
Financial Institution. “Financial institution” means any bank, credit union, insurance company, mortgage banking company or savings and loan association which operates or has a place of business in this State. (Emphasis added)
TRANSLATION: The HRA applies to insurance companies. (Which, according to this mind-numbing law, seems to include health insurance companies.
Which leads to:
Civil Rights Violations: Loans. It shall be a civil rights violation for any financial institution, on the grounds of unlawful discrimination, to…. Provide any person with any service which is different from, or provided in a different manner than, that which is provided to other persons similarly situated.
TRANSLATION: A financial institution can’t offer someone a different type of service because of their protected class (race/gender/etc/etc/etc).
CONCLUSION: Isn’t the insurance being offered by ICHIP “provided in a different manner” to me than to any other individual? Specifically when it comes to access to generally accepted physician-prescribed medication and physician-recommended surgery. The rest of the Illinois CHIP plan makes a big deal about not providing treatment unless it’s physician-recommended, and within general practice guidelines. Well, gender reassignment surgery is both of those things.
I’m working on something to send to Lambda Legal and the ACLU in hopes that I can file a complaint (at minimum) and sue (if that doesn’t work).

5 Responses to “Illinois CHIP violating the Human Rights Act?”

  1. Mym says:

    Good luck! I’d be curious to know how this goes… I’m working on getting proper trans* coverage for Northwestern’s student plan, and it sounds like this would apply to *every* insurance company that operates in Illinois.

  2. Sarah says:

    Interesting theory… definitely keep us updated as to how that goes. Good luck! Insurance companies seriously, seriously suck. I feel you on having to shell out thousands for something I think should be covered.

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