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Coverage criteria policies

Gender-confirming surgery – Minnesota Health Care Programs

These services may or may not be covered by your HealthPartners plan. Please see your plan documents for your specific coverage information. If there is a difference between this general information and your plan documents, your plan documents will be used to determine your coverage.

Administrative Process

Prior authorization is required for Gender-confirming surgery (GCS).


Gender-confirming surgery (GCS) is generally covered subject to the indications listed below and per your plan documents.

Indications that are covered

Gender-confirming surgery (GCS) is considered medically necessary when a person has been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria and meets the established criteria.

MHCP covers the following services:

  • Hysterectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy
  • Vaginectomy (including colpectomy, metoidioplasty, phalloplasty, urethoplasty, urethromeatoplasty
  • Mastectomy, breast reduction, chest reconstruction
  • Penile prosthesis (noninflatable or inflatable)
  • Orchiectomy
  • Vaginoplasty (including colovaginoplasty, penectomy, labiaplasty, clitoroplasty, vulvoplasty, penile skin inversion, repair of introittus, construction of vagina with graft, coloproctostomy)

In addition to these specific covered procedures, the following procedures may also be covered when medically necessary:

  • Breast augmentation surgery for male-to-female GCS when the patient exhibits no response after being adherent to hormone therapy for at least 24 months (unless contraindicated) and gender dysphoric symptoms remain after hormone treatment
  • Scrotoplasty, testicular expanders, and testicular prostheses for female-to-male GCS

All of the following criteria for the requested services must be met before coverage of GCS can be authorized:

  1. Recipient must be 18 years of age or older
  2. Submit documentation supporting that the client has lived in the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity for at least 12 continuous months
  3. Submit written referrals from clinicians qualified in the behavioral aspects of gender dysphoria. The referral letters must meet the following requirements:
  4. Genital surgery: A written referral from two independent clinicians with expertise in transgender health, one of whom has an established and ongoing relationship with the client.
  5. The referral letters may be from behavioral health professionals, the client’s treating provider (physician, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist), or both.
  6. A referral letter from a behavioral health provider must include a recent diagnostic assessment.
  7. In the absence of a diagnostic assessment, the client’s medical provider (physician, nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist) must complete a psychosocial assessment. Include the psychosocial assessment components.
  8. Chest surgery: A written referral from one clinician with expertise in transgender health and who has an established and ongoing relationship with the patient. If the referral letter is from a behavioral health provider, it must include a recent diagnostic assessment.
  9. If the referral letter is from the client’s treating provider (physician, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist), a psychosocial assessment must be completed. Include the psychosocial assessment components.
Psychosocial assessment components

A psychosocial assessment must include the following:

  • Client’s current life situation
  • Age
  • Current living situation, including household membership and housing status
  • Basic needs status including economic status
  • Education level and employment status
  • Significant personal relationships, including the client’s evaluation of relationship quality
  • Strength’s and resources including the extent and quality of social networks
  • Belief systems
  • Contextual nonpersonal factors contributing to the client’s presenting concerns
  • General physical health and relationship to client’s culture
  • Current medications
  • Reason for assessment
  • Description of symptoms including reason for referral
  • Perception of his or her condition
  • History of mental health treatment including review of records
  • Developmental incidents
  • Maltreatment or abuse
  • History of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Health history and family health history
  • Cultural influences and impact on diagnosis and possibly on treatment
  • Mental status exam
  • Assessment of the client’s need based on baseline measurements, symptoms, behaviors, skills, abilities, resources, vulnerabilities and safety needs
  • Screening used to determine substance abuse and other standardized screening instruments (CAGE-AID, GAIN-SS)
  • Clinical summary
  • Prioritization of needed mental health, ancillary or other services
  • Client and family participation in assessment
  • Referrals to services and service preferences by individual
  • Cause, prognosis, likely consequences of symptoms
  • How the criteria for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is met: symptoms, duration and functional impairment
  • Strengths, cultural influences, life situations, relationships, health concerns and how gender dysphoria diagnosis interacts with or impacts client’s life
  • Primary diagnosis of gender dysphoria. If any other mental health or substance use disorders are present, make a referral to a mental health professional or a substance use treatment specialist
Clinician attestation

In addition to a diagnostic or psychosocial assessment, the referral letter must include the clinician’s attestation about each of the following:

  • The person’s general identifying characteristics
  • The duration of the referring provider’s relationship with the person, including the type of evaluation and therapy or counseling that the person underwent
  • An explanation that the person has met criteria for surgery and a brief description of the clinical rationale for supporting the request for surgery
  • A statement that the clinician obtained informed consent
  • A statement that the treating provider is available for coordination of care
  • Affirmation of gender dysphoria diagnosis
  • If significant medical or mental health concerns are present, documentation must support that these concerns are reasonably well controlled in addition to the person’s adherence to recommended medical and behavioral treatment plans. This includes the following:
  • Twelve months of continuous hormone therapy for genital surgery or twenty-four months of continuous hormone therapy for breast augmentation
  • Behavioral health therapy: recipient is receiving treatment, is in recovery, or is in stable remission of any co-morbid behavioral health conditions that are not attributed to dysphoria (for example, psychosis, trauma, substance use disorder) for 12 continuous months. Stable remission is defined as lack of hospitalization, day treatment or emergent care for any co-morbid behavioral health conditions during the 12-month period before surgery
  • No medical contraindications for surgery

Indications that are not covered

The following procedures are considered cosmetic and not medically necessary; therefore, these services are excluded from MHCP coverage:

  • Abdominoplasty
  • Blepharoplasty
  • Brow lift
  • Calf implants
  • Cheek or malar implants
  • Collagen injections
  • Electrolysis or laser hair removal unless other hair removal techniques on the site after surgery would be unsafe
  • Face or forehead lift
  • Facial bone reconstruction
  • Facial implants
  • Gluteal augmentation
  • Hair transplantation
  • Jaw reduction
  • Laryngoplasty
  • Lip reduction or enhancement
  • Lipofilling or collagen injections
  • Liposuction
  • Mastopexy
  • Neck tightening
  • Nose implants
  • Pectoral implants
  • Removal of redundant skin
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Skin resurfacing (dermabrasion, chemical peels)
  • Trachea shave or thyroid cartilage reduction (chondroplasty)
  • Voice modification surgery
  • Voice therapy or voice lessons


This information is for most, but not all, HealthPartners plans. Please read your plan documents to see if your plan has limits or will not cover some items. If there is a difference between this general information and your plan documents, your plan documents will be used to determine your coverage. These coverage criteria may not apply to Medicare Products if Medicare requires different coverage. For more information regarding Medicare coverage criteria or for a copy of a Medicare coverage policy, contact Member Services at 952-883-7979 or 1-800-233-9645.


  1. Minnesota Health Care Programs Provider Manual-Gender-Confirming Surgery

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Policy activity

  • 02/06/2017 - Date of origin
  • 02/13/2017 - Effective date
Review date
  • 06/2018

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