Beginning in the fall, students at the University of Illinois at Chicago will be able to obtain sex change operations under the taxpayer-funded school’s generous student health insurance plan.
UIC trustees approved the additional coverage along with a 15 percent rate hike on Wednesday, reports WGN-TV. The annual cost of student insurance will rise to $922. As part of that figure, every insured student will pay an additional $9 per year in case transgender students decide they want to change genders.
Student fees and payments fund the health insurance plan, called CampusCare. All students are required to buy the insurance unless they can produce evidence of sufficient coverage from a parent, employer or some other source, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Most medical treatment funded through CampusCare occurs at the UIC-affiliated hospital just down the street from campus. That facility doesn’t perform sex-change surgeries, though. As such, the operation will be an “out-of-network” benefit, which means that sex-change recipients must pay for 30 percent of the total cost of the procedure.
The trustees approved the gender reassignment benefit by a 6-2 vote. The two trustees who voted against the change are both Republicans. (Two other UIC trustees didn’t show up to vote.)
Timothy Koritz, an anesthesiologist, said he thinks the decision is financially and politically irresponsible.
“I think a lot of taxpayers may feel that is not an appropriate use of their money,” Koritz told the Tribune.
Patrick Fitzgerald, a former U.S. attorney (and the federal prosecutor who headed the Valerie Plame Affair investigation) is also a UIC trustee. He favors deference to the wishes of the students.
“I would be uncomfortable if we got into a situation where we looked at every … procedure and tried to decide how comfortable taxpayers would feel,” Fitzgerald told the Tribune.
UIC spokesman Bill Burton stressed the role of student decision-making as well.
“Students instigated this,” Burton told The College Fix. “Students backed it.”
Burton explained that the new insurance feature has the backing of the school’s student fee advisory committee. Also, a UIC graduate student first proposed the addition of gender reassignments to the health-insurance menu.
The move to allow health-insurance plans to pay for sex changes has become something of a fad at American colleges and universities.
“There is a great many other universities that offer this,” Burton told The College Fix, “at least 37 that we are aware of.”
Duke University, Northwestern University and Brown University are three examples. (RELATED: Brown University’s student health plan will cover sex changes)
The insurance plan at the University of Illinois’s flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign currently does not subsidize sex changes.
According to the Tribune, UIC officials estimate that, on average, not even one student per year will utilize the benefit.
Aetna, the managed healthcare company that handles accounts for vendor for nearly 20 schools that pay for sex changes through student insurance, reported seven such surgeries last year across all the schools.
People who opt for sex-change surgery and all the associated drugs and medical care acquire a lifetime benefit of just over $117,000, notes the Tribune.
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