Basic health insurance not to cover breast enlargement for transgenders

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Breast implants (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/FDA). (Breast implants (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/FDA))

From next year the basic health insurance will only reimburse breast implants for transgender women without any breast growth at all, according to a letter from Health Minister Edith Schippers. This means that transgender women whose sex-change hormone therapy triggered any breast growth at all, no matter how minimal, will not be reimbursed for breast enlargement, AD reports.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, will discuss the healthcare package with Minister Edith Schippers of Public Health, Welfare and Sports on Thursday.

LGBT interest group COC and patient organizations are protesting against the minister's decision not to reimburse breast enlargement for transgender women. "The proposal has nothing to offer for transgender women. In practice the number eligible for reimbursement is nil", they write. The hormone therapy for a sex-change for male to female transgenders almost always triggers some breast development, but in practice this usually remains limited to cup size AA.

Reimbursing breast augmentation would involve more than 100 men a year and cost about 250 thousand euros, according to the letter writers.

The proposal to restrict breast enlargement compensation for transgender women came from health insurance companies and plastic surgeons, according to AD. They think the measure reasonable - if ordinary women with an A cup size are not reimbursed for breast enlargement, then transgender women shouldn't be either.

But chairman of patient organization Transvisie and transgender Eveline van den Boom disagrees. "Breast augmentation is an integral part of the overall transition. If you walk into a sauna, nobody should doubt that you're a woman", she said to the Dutch newspaper.

PvdA parliamentarian Lea Bouwmeester supports the transgender women. She finds it strange that transgender men are reimbursed to get a penis, but getting breasts is complicated. The SP agrees. "It's not about making someone pretty,but making a someone whole."

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