How to Pay for Transgender Surgery

How to Pay for Transgender Surgery

Transgender Americans will pay a steep worth if gender affirmation surgical procedure is a part of their transition.

According to the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, prices for particular person surgical procedures can vary from $1,500 to $26,000; for sufferers who elect a number of surgical procedures, the mixed prices can attain six figures.

For many, managing the elements associated to transitioning and protecting these prices can show overwhelming.

Wolsey Bradley and his spouse, Lucky, have needed to be artistic in financing their procedures. The couple has paid nearly $50,000 in medical bills associated to their transitions.

“We’ve probably paid for our surgeries in every way you can think of,” Wolsey says.

In 2016, Wolsey started his transition with a $14,490 chest reconstruction and masculinization liposuction surgical procedure. Lucky’s facial feminization surgical procedure will price about $35,000. The two have used a mixture of credit playing cards, medical credit playing cards, money and insurance to pay for the surgical procedures.

In addition to cash, the procedures additionally price them time.

“We are both turning 50 this year,” Wolsey says. “Most people our age are looking at retiring. We don’t have a house or savings, except the small pension our work provided. The medical stuff does take over.”

While the best-case situation is for well being insurance to cowl the prices, that won’t all the time be an choice. Here are different methods to pay for transgender surgical procedure.

Ways to finance transgender surgical procedure prices

Online private loan

Online lenders provide unsecured private loans that can be utilized for nearly any objective, together with medical prices. Loan quantities vary from about $2,000 to $100,000, and rates of interest and month-to-month funds are mounted over the lifetime of the loan.

Online lenders sometimes allow you to pre-qualify and apply for a private loan on-line, a comfort that’s much less widespread at banks and credit unions. However, until you qualify for a low rate of interest, on-line loans may be one of the costly methods to cowl transgender surgical procedure prices. Compare the annual proportion charges of a number of lenders to obtain the most effective charges and month-to-month funds that suit your finances.

Credit union private loan

Credit unions additionally provide private loans, typically with decrease charges and extra versatile phrases than on-line lenders. Like on-line lenders, credit unions set loan phrases primarily based in your credit rating and historical past, however some could take into account elements outdoors your credit rating, making it simpler to qualify for funding. The loan quantities supplied could not cowl the whole price of surgical procedure, and you need to qualify for credit union membership.

Credit playing cards

Credit playing cards ought to sometimes be used for smaller purchases since credit limits may be low and rates of interest are sometimes steep, says Steve Branton, an authorized monetary planner and advisor at San Francisco-based wealth and monetary administration agency Private Ocean.

If you’ve gotten good or glorious credit (a FICO rating of 690 or above), you may be eligible for a credit card with an introductory 0% APR. Branton recommends studying the advantageous print if you wish to make the most of an introductory APR. You need to pay the steadiness throughout the promotional interval to keep away from paying curiosity.

Also, watch out that your medical prices do not max out a credit card; reaching the credit restrict on a card can negatively influence your credit rating.


Wolsey says he used CareCredit to assist cowl $5,000 of his chest reconstruction surgical procedure price. CareCredit is a credit card used particularly for financing well being care bills. If your physician accepts it, you’ll be able to apply at their workplace or on-line.

CareCredit’s normal APR is 26.99%, which can be larger than the charges of different credit card issuers. Health care suppliers could provide promotional financing choices, equivalent to zero-interest offers, which require you to repay the steadiness in full on time to keep away from paying curiosity.

Home fairness line of credit

If you personal a home, a dwelling fairness line of credit permits you to borrow towards it, generally as much as 85% of its appraised worth minus any quantity you continue to owe on the mortgage. You can borrow and repay the funds as typically as wanted through the time period, and extremely certified debtors could get decrease APRs.

However, in the event you can’t repay the HELOC, you may lose your house. Interest charges are often variable, so month-to-month funds might fluctuate, and a few HELOCs have upfront software, appraisal or different charges.

Family loan

Borrowing cash from a relative could also be your most inexpensive and lowest-risk choice, Branton says. He suggests making a promissory word — a doc that particulars elements like curiosity and reimbursement phrases — and consulting a tax preparer.

The course of must be finished accurately to fulfill the IRS, Branton says. It’s additionally price weighing the potential influence this association might have in your relationship with the member of the family.

Other methods to cowl transgender surgical procedure prices

Surgery grants

There are foundations and organizations that provide grants — funds that don’t have to be repaid — for transgender surgical procedure. The Jim Collins Foundation, Point of Pride, and Genderbands are examples of organizations that provide gender affirmation funding. Check their web sites for potential eligibility necessities and software deadlines.

Flexible spending accounts

Your employer-provided insurance could help you contribute to a versatile spending account, as much as $2,750 a 12 months. The cash in an FSA is not taxed and can be utilized to pay out-of-pocket well being bills like co-pays or prescriptions.

Payment plan

Some well being care suppliers help you arrange cost plans that break up giant medical payments into extra inexpensive month-to-month funds. The whole you pay every month will rely upon the loan quantity and phrases you negotiate together with your well being care supplier, and there could also be billing prices or charges related to the plan.

Additional suggestions: Compare and plan

After managing hundreds of {dollars} in medical bills, and spreadsheets to trace them, each Wolsey and Lucky have discovered extra methods to save lots of on costly transgender surgical procedures.

Don’t all the time select the most affordable choice

It could also be tempting to buy primarily based on worth alone, however it advantages you to discover a respected surgeon with expertise within the procedures you want. Working with somebody unsuitable might imply you’ll need to pay another person to repair errors — one thing that Lucky has witnessed in her group.

“I had a couple of friends who went with a cheaper surgeon just because it was less money, and they ended up spending a lot more because other surgeons had to fix it,” she says.

Shop around

Having multiple options allows you to make the best decision for yourself and your budget.

“You can go into any surgeon’s office and get them to give you a quote. It’s like buying a car,” Wolsey says. Through this approach, Wolsey and Lucky found a surgeon who performed the procedures they needed at a more affordable price.

“The surgeon who did my first bottom surgery and Lucky’s final round of facial feminization surgery does time on the table. She does not charge for each individual procedure she does.”

Budget and plan forward

Before you take out a loan or apply for a credit card, add the monthly payments into your budget to determine if you can afford them.

“I think financially, you really have to check what you have. You have to be really aware of how well you are budgeting and paying off debt,” Wolsey says.