Sun Life launches extended health coverage for transitioning workers

Gender affirmation coverage available to employers as of April

Sun Life launches extended health coverage for transitioning workers
Sun Life Financial corporate headquarters is pictured at One York Street in Toronto, on Feb. 11. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Sun Life Financial will offer gender affirmation coverage through extended health-care plans, beginning in April.

The company announced the extended coverage will help transitioning workers to embody their authentic selves.

"We know there can be a significant impact on an individual's mental, emotional and physical well-being when they do not feel connected to their gender," said Marie-Chantal Côté, vice-president, market development at Sun Life Financial Canada.

"Gender affirmation procedures and hormone therapies can help a person feel empowered to align their body with their gender expression."

Sun Life's offering will provide financial support to plan members by reimbursing expenses covered by their workplace plan.

Employers can offer core or enhanced coverage which includes:

  • core coverage: coverage for basic surgical procedures not covered under the individual's provincial or territorial health care plan (for example: reduction of the Adam's apple and/or voice surgery)
  • enhanced coverage: additional coverage for surgical procedures to align feminine or masculine features to the transitioned gender, such as facial bone reduction and/or cheek augmentation.

In conjunction with the person's provincial or territorial health care plan, Sun Life's core coverage will reimburse some procedures not covered by their place of residence. While most medicare plans cover the basic surgical procedures for transitioning, many do not cover surgeries that feminize or masculinize an individual's features.

"When it comes to health and wellness, we understand that no two needs are the same, which is why we continue to evolve and diversify our health benefit plans, helping to meet the needs of all Canadians," said Dave Jones, senior vice-president, group benefits at Sun Life Financial Canada.

"Having additional support through gender affirmation can make a meaningful difference and help plan members live happier and healthier lives."

Gender affirmation coverage will be available to employers who wish to add it to their existing group extended health-care plans, beginning April 2019.

Watch for more in-depth coverage on this announcement in Canadian HR Reporter’s May print issue.

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