SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – A Utah native wins battle with her insurance company to have her sex-change operation paid for.
34-year-old Ida Hammer was born a man, but says she’s always been a woman.
“A lot of people say a woman trapped in a man's body, but like I said, I’m a woman and this is my body so it's a woman's body,” explained Hammer. “It's just that there's thing I want to change about it."
Hammer was raised LDS in Brigham City and for years didn’t know what it meant to be transgendered.
“Struggling with it and not knowing it’s possible and just feeling a lot of shame,” said Hammer. “It was a process to work through that.”
With the help of her friends and doctors she did work through it and about four years ago, after moved to New York, she decided it was time to make her final transition into womanhood and have a sex change operation.
She applied for pre-authorization for her male-to-female sex surgery in July 2011. MVP Health Care denied her claim on the grounds that it was cosmetic and therefore not covered under her policy.
Hammer said, "My request was denied and I appealed it twice and it was denied twice. Finally with the help of the Transgendered Legal Defense and Education Fund, and a threat of a lawsuit, MVP Health Care changed its stance and agreed with Hammer’s doctors that the sex operation was “medically necessary.”
Executive Director of Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Michael Silverman said, "The American Medical Association, and every credible medical organization out there, has said the same thing - transitional related health care is medically necessary for transgendered people."
Hammer hopes this decision forces other insurance companies to change their policy and encourages other transgendered people to complete their transition.
"You don't have to hide or pretend if it’s something you've been struggling with throughout your life,” said Hammer.
Hammer expects to have her surgery next year.