Berkeley Student Health Plan Now Covers Laser Hair Removal For Transgender Students

ashley.rae | June 7, 2017

The University of California, Berkeley’s student health insurance plan will now cover laser hair removal and “fertility preservation” for students who are transitioning genders.

According to the “insurance benefits for transgender students” page on the Berkeley health services website, new additions to the 2017-2018 UC Berkeley’s Student Health Insurance Plan (Berkeley SHIP) include laser hair removal on the face and neck and “fertility preservation” procedures.

Neither laser hair removal nor fertility preservation are usually covered by insurance providers. For those who are suffering from hirsutism caused by hormonal imbalance, laser hair removal on the face and neck is often treated as a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by most insurance providers. According to the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, fertility preservation is not covered by insurance, even if the person choosing fertility preservation has cancer.

An insurance information card provided to MRCTV verifies new benefits for the 2017-2018 year include laser hair removal and “fertility preservation” for transgender students, but notes the services will also be provided for those who can prove “medical necessity.”

The University Health Services’ information page for Berkeley SHIP also states the laser hair removal and fertility preservation procedures will be offered to transgender students and those with “medical necessity.”

For the 2017-2018 plan, the rate for an undergraduate student is $1,415 per semester. For a graduate student, the plan is $2,231 per semester.

Fertility preservation for women starts off at $10,000 to freeze eggs. According to USC Fertility, it costs approximately $10,000 to undergo egg freezing. Thawing the eggs cost another $5,000, and the Huffington Post claims storing eggs costs up to $800 per year. For men, the Alliance for Fertility Preservation claims fertility preservation can cost anywhere between a starting point of $1,000 to $12,000 depending on the procedure.

The average cost of laser hair removal, while not as expensive as fertility preservation, is $235 per session, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The number of required sessions depends upon the amount of hair, the thickness of hair, and the desired result.

The “insurance benefits for transgender students” page states Berkeley SHIP already covers hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery, breast augmentation for those transitioning to women, “top surgery” for those transitioning to men, electrolysis, a tracheal shave, and even “limited travel expenses” to have those procedures.

While Berkeley SHIP covers cosmetic procedures such as electrolysis and laser hair removal, the guide for transgender students notes it does not cover liposuction, rhinoplasty, face lifts, or facial bone reconstruction therapy to make students appear “more like” the gender they identity as.

For those transitioning opting to undergo any of the procedures offered by the Berkeley SHIP plan, the Berkeley website includes a step-by-step guide for transgender surgery for students.

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