Medical Students split from insurer over trans youth treatment

The Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) has announced it has split from major doctors insurance provider MDA National after it announced it would no longer provide coverage for doctors who initiate hormone treatment in transgender adolescents.

Under MDA National’s new policy change, private doctors will be excluded from insurance coverage if they initiate gender affirming hormonal treatment for transgender people who are under 18.

The insurer made the decision in response to what it claims is “growing criticism globally of the research that underpins medical and surgical transition of children in response to gender dysphoria.”

MDA National says the policy change is designed to avoid the “risk of potentially high-value claims arising from irreversible treatments” provided to transgender youths.

However MDA National will still provide coverage to doctors who prescribe puberty blockers for trans teens.

MDA National told the ABC earlier this month that it is “apolitical” and does not make any “commentary on the appropriateness of the informed consent model of gender-affirming care” through this decision.

“Even though practitioners working in this space provide the very best healthcare … there is very little a practitioner can do to protect against claims from those, who, with the benefit of hindsight, believe their care should have been managed differently,” MDA National’s statement reads.

“As a doctor-owned organisation, we must act in the best interest of all our doctor members with respect to future claims, which are not paid for by the government, advocacy associations or the individual doctors that may be sued.”

“The cost of these claims must be covered by the broader MDA membership, which is made up largely of private practising doctors.”

Trans youth already facing barriers to healthcare

Reacting to the policy change, AMSA said that it “sets a harmful precedent for the future of trans and gender diverse healthcare and perpetuates the treatment inaccessibility and healthcare inequities currently faced by trans and gender diverse patients.”

In its statement AMSA noted that there are only a limited number of clinicians in Australia who are able to competently provide gender affirming medical treatments.

“By refusing to protect these clinicians, this policy change directly obstructs and minimises healthcare opportunities that trans and gender diverse people can access,” the statement says.

“This lack of access is compounded by intersections such as rurality and remoteness, widening the healthcare disparity for trans and gender diverse people outside urban areas who already experience reduced access to care.”

As such, AMSA has disaffiliated from MDA National until the policy is reviewed and repealed.

MDA National is an Australia-wide Medical Defence Organisation that has been in operation for over 95 years.

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Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

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