A Georgia worker urged his district to include gender-affirming care in his health insurance. Instead, the county spent $1.2 million to fight the effort: report.
A Georgia county has been accused of refusing to include gender-affirming care in its health insurance plan.
An employee sued her for discrimination in 2019, ProPublica reported.
ProPublica found that the district spent $1.2 million on the fight — significantly more than the cost of the care.
A Georgia county has been accused of refusing to expand its medical coverage to include gender-affirming care for an employee, instead spending $1.2 million to fight the effort.
Sergeant Anna Lange, a Houston County sheriff’s deputy in Georgia, has urged her county to expand its healthcare coverage to cover her gender-affirming care, according to insider-reviewed court documents. The county denied it, citing cost as the primary reason, ProPublica reported.
Lange sued the county for discrimination, alleging that while she was being provided necessary employee medical care, she was “denied necessary medical care under the Plan because Houston County (the “County”) cannot provide the care that.” it required, expressly and intentionally excluded’. according to the court records.
Houston County has not responded to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.
Lange had worked for the Houston County Sheriff’s Office for more than a decade before coming out as transgender to her colleagues in 2017 after a therapist diagnosed her with gender dysphoria. Her boss initially thought she was joking and later told her he “don’t believe” in being transgender, as ProPublica has obtained.
Lange soon realized that her county-issued health insurance would not cover much of the transitional care, and all her efforts to get her included were unsuccessful, ProPublica reported.
“They knew right then and there that it doesn’t matter what I say, it wouldn’t matter,” she told ProPublica. “It’s a really helpless feeling.”
Despite concerns about costs, ProPublica estimated that legal fees for fighting Lange’s case were three times the county’s physical and mental health budget in one year.
After racking up medical debt and draining her savings and retirement funds with bills going to collection agencies, Lange told ProPublica she decided to sue the county for workplace discrimination in 2019. The district then hired a private law firm to fight Lange in federal court and paid them nearly $1.2 million, ProPublica reported. ProPublica estimated costs by summing up total direct payments to private law firms from the date the lawsuit was filed through December 31, 2022.
“It was really a slap in the face to find out how much they had spent,” Lange told ProPublica. “They obviously treat it like a political issue when it’s a medical issue.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, including gender-affirming care in insurance plans, especially for large corporations, typically adds “very little overhead.” An expert cited by ProPublica estimated that adding transitional care to the health plan would only add 0.1% to the cost of all claims.
But Houston County maintained that the costs, even if minimal now, would eventually add up, and that including gender-affirming care in their health plans would pave the way for claims to cover abortions or weight-loss surgeries, ProPublica reported.
The Human Rights Campaign reported that the total cost of gender-affirming care for one person is estimated at $25,000 to $75,000, which is minimal compared to the cost of other procedures or medications. Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign said transgender people typically struggle with other conditions because of their inability to transition.
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