ACA Nondiscrimination Rules Apply to Gender Identity and Stereotyping

On August 6, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued guidance regarding the nondiscrimination rules of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).  Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits service providers that receive federal funding from denying coverage or otherwise discriminating against individuals on the basis of age, disability, national origin, race, or sex. 

The new HHS guidance clarifies that Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping.  HHS stated it would investigate complaints from people who are not getting health care for failure to conform to “stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity.”  This clarification is especially important for transgender people, who often face barriers in accessing health care.  If individuals believe their rights have been violated, they can file a complaint with the HHS Office for Civil Rights at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/complaints/index.html.  Section 1557 does not require gender transition surgery to be covered by health plans. 

For more information about the ACA’s nondiscrimination rules, please contact your Trust Fund counsel.

By Kristina M. Zinnen

Legal Developments