One of the country’s biggest medical insurers will no longer cover doctors prescribing so called gender-affirming care to children
MDA National is one of Australia’s four major medical indemnity providers that insures GPs and other private practitioners against legal claims.
From next month, it won’t cover claims arising from gender-affirming treatment of a child under 18, including the prescribing of hormones.
The insurer’s president Dr. Michael Gannon told the Sydney Morning Herald the decision was made in response to cases overseas including the high profile inquiry which led to the closure of the UK’s Tavistock Centre which was the country’s only children’s gender clinic. The inquiry prompted threats of a class action by more than 1,000 families.
“This is very much an insurance decision, we don’t think we can accurately and fairly price the risk of ‘regret’,” Dr. Gannon explained.
“One of the problems with long tail insurance is that you might make a decision, or there might be a clinical matter that’s dealt with, and then it takes five, 10, 15, 20 years before that turns into a clinical problem,” he told NewsGP.
“We’re talking about people who are making life changing decisions. So, our feeling is that that is a very high level of risk for an individual GP to take on their own. We are worried about the risk that it presents to these individual members and, more broadly, the rest of our members. So, we’re making no moral judgments, no ethical judgments – we’re making an insurance company decision based on our inability to price an area that we think might be high risk.’
Dr. Gannon noted the insurer has taken steps to increase premiums when an area of significant risk is identified, such as with neuro and bariatric surgeons in recent years. He says gender affirmation treatment is more difficult to assess.
Despite previous research indicating that ‘regret’ after undergoing gender-affirming treatment is rare, he believes the data is unreliable and not reflective of the current social context.
“Most people with school aged children would know of at least one individual that is questioning or querying. In other words, this social issue has fundamentally changed in recent years from being one that was most uncommon to one which is widely considered by a larger group of people. So the data on people changing their minds in the experience we have, probably doesn’t reflect the level of risk there is now with literally hundreds of teens questioning or querying their gender identity,” Dr. Gannon explained to newsGP.
MDA National will still cover GPs providing repeat prescriptions for gender-affirming hormones and general healthcare for patients with gender dysphoria.
The company said the decision would affect “well under a hundred” of its 40,000 members.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports two other major insurers, Avant and Medical Indemnity Protection Society (MIPs) have indicated to doctors that they would continue to cover GPs prescribing hormones to transgender patients under 18.
Doctors are concerned MDA’s decision could deter health professionals from working in gender-affirming care, reducing the number of procedures that can be carried out.
Meanwhile, CBN News reports Norway has joined Finland and Sweden in adopting or changing policies that signal a rejection of the gender-affirming model of care for minors.
The Norwegian Healthcare Investigation Board announced it will be revising its guidelines on the use of puberty blockers and gender-reassignment surgeries because there is a lack of medical research to support the use of those protocols.
England’s National Health Service has previously issued guidance to doctors to recognise that minors struggling with their gender identity should be treated with the understanding that “in most cases, gender incongruence does not persist into adolescence.”
CBN News also reveals new studies from Germany confirm gender reassignment surgeries are failing to improve the lives of people struggling with their gender identities, leading instead, to worsening mental health, increased feelings of loneliness and, in some cases, increasing suicide rates.