Transgender soldiers transition-related care cost would be insignificant

A new study published on The New England Journal of Medicine on August 12 is suggesting that if transgender people get the required approvals for serving the US armed forces, healthcare costs for them will be relatively nominal.

Last month, we saw Defense Secretary Ash Carter announce that the Pentagon will be studying possible ways of dismantling the ban responsible for stopping transgender individuals from serving American armed forces. Carter said that this study might actually trigger official lifting of the ban by December.

One of the main factors considered by the Pentagon has been the expenses for administering healthcare to service members in need of specialized treatment or surgeries for undergoing a sex change. However, surprisingly the author of this new study Aaron Belkin has discovered that the annual cost of providing healthcare to transgender soldiers will be just $5.6 million.

Belkin, who happens to be the director of California-based research institute Palm Center, stated that under all plausible estimation methods, the healthcare costs for transgender troops are turning out to be minimal.

The study conducted by Belkin estimated that the US armed forces currently has around 12,800 transgender members, which is much less than another recent estimate of around 15,000. According to Belkin, out of those transgender service members, just 188 will need transition-related healthcare in a particular year, which would lead to an annual expenditure of $5.6 million.

While the Pentagon will be busy studying the policy over the coming six months, people opposing the thought of lifting the ban will most likely talk about concerns such as the expenditure of providing these special treatments to transgender service members.

However, Belkin is saying that healthcare cost for transgender troops cannot be considered as a factor, particularly when compared to the overall annual healthcare budget of the Defense Department. For those who don’t know: the US Defense Department has an annual healthcare budget of around $48 billion.

Belkin added that whenever the Pentagon decides to officially allow transgender soldiers to serve the US military, that verdict should be accompanied by the decision of providing adequate healthcare to them.

Another significant fact put forward by the study is that there’s no evidence, which suggests that people looking for insurance to cover their transgender healthcare costs are more likely to look for employments whose insurance offer that care.


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