Sun Life offers gender affirmation coverage

by James Burton03 Apr 2019

Sun Life is offering Canadians an industry first – extended health coverage to help people transitioning.

The company is “proud” to offer gender affirmation coverage, responding to an increase in interest from its clients and an effort to enhance its diversity of products in order to improve the health and happiness of its clients.

Marie-Chantal Côté, vice-president, market development at Sun Life Financial Canada, told LHP: “This came up in a few different ways. Our clients started to signal to us that they are interested in providing that kind of coverage to their employees.

“And when you look at the values, services and different solutions we wanted to help solve, we were thinking there was a great alignment in terms of helping Canadians with their mental, emotional and physical well-being when they don’t feel connected to their gender.

“So we think this coverage can help plan members have a happier life, which very much aligns with our process and our mandate.”

While Sun Life recognises that everyone’s experience with gender affirmation is different, it 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, the 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.

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.