June 28, 2020
SUPERINTENDENT LINDA A. LACEWELL ANNOUNCES ACTION TO PROTECT LGBTQ NEW YORKERS AGAINST BIAS IN HEALTHCARE
Department of Financial Services Issues Guidance Outlining Insurers’ Responsibilities Under New York Law Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression or Transgender Status
DFS Issues Updated Guide to Help Transgender New Yorkers Understand Their Health Insurance Rights for Gender-Affirming Care
New York Continues to Ensure All New Yorkers Are Protected, Regardless of Actions at the Federal Level
Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell today announced an action by the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers from discrimination in healthcare as the federal government continues to remove or erode these protections. DFS issued guidance to insurers outlining their responsibilities under a recent New York State regulation related to non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or transgender status, and preventive care and screenings.
In addition, DFS issued an updated guide to help transgender New Yorkers understand their health insurance rights for gender-affirming care.
“DFS is proud to reinforce Governor Cuomo’s efforts to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers from bias in healthcare,” said Superintendent Lacewell. “This directive means insurers must provide LGBTQ New Yorkers equal access to healthcare, regardless of actions at the federal level to erode these important protections.”
In the circular letter announced today, DFS reminded insurers that New York State law and regulation continue to prohibit insurers from discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or transgender status. DFS monitors compliance with these non-discrimination requirements, including during market conduct exams. In addition, DFS will take action against an insurer for any failure to adhere to all statutory and regulatory prohibitions against discrimination.
As the federal government has taken action to remove protections prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or transgender status, DFS continues to safeguard the healthcare of all New Yorkers. In addition to other prohibitions on discrimination, DFS’ recent actions include:
- Prohibiting all insurers from refusing to issue an insurance policy or contract, or cancel or decline to renew such policy or contract, because of the sex or marital status of the applicant or policyholder;
- Specifically defining “sex” to include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and transgender status; and
- Prohibiting discrimination in health insurance policies or contracts because of sex, marital status, or based on pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions.
Under a proposed amendment to Insurance Regulation 62 taking effect on July 28, 2020, insurers are prohibited from discrimination based on an insured’s or prospective insured’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or transgender status. This regulation applies to individual, small group, and large group accident and health insurance policies and contracts that provide hospital, surgical, or medical expense coverage, as well as student accident and health insurance policies.
The amendment prohibits policy exclusions for treatments related to gender transition, gender dysphoria, or gender incongruence. In addition, it provides that discrimination under the regulation includes denying, limiting or otherwise excluding medically necessary services or treatment otherwise covered by a policy on the basis that the treatment is for gender dysphoria, as well as other provisions.