Starbuck’s will provide transgender employees with comprehensive care as they transition, the international coffee chain announced Monday.
Known anecdotally for the quality of their barista benefits, (and by consumers as the company that raised the bar of quality for coffee around the world), Starbucks says it will soon cover expenses that are often excluded by insurers.
In addition to covering bottom surgery, the company will now cover the remaining medical steps in a person’s transition, including several procedures often regarded as cosmetic which insurers regularly reject for reimbursement.
Under the new plan, top surgeries will soon be covered as employees work their way through hair removal, transplants, facial feminization surgery and breast reductions or augmentation. In addition to covering all gender-confirming surgeries, the coffee purveyor will also offer assistance for its employees as they to to align a team of physicians and healthcare providers.
Starbucks distinguished itself as far back as 2012 by becoming one of the first companies in the US to cover bottom surgeries. Since then, many companies have followed suit, but trans employees are often left struggling to finance the remainder of the work they need — truly comprehensive care throughout their transitions.
Part of the problem is that insurers oftentimes regard transition as one major surgical realignment, when correctly reassigning gender is a multi-phase process that is almost never complete without an investment of several years and a substantial financial investment.
Vice President of benefits Ron Crawford, says that Starbucks’ new plan is to be fully inclusive. “The approach,” he said in a statement Monday, “was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, and by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are. You have to think of it from an equity perspective.”
Crawfod admits, “Nobody else is doing this, and adds, “We would love to see more employers doing this.”
According to company execs, the policy has been some time in development. As they went, corporate leaders consulted with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) to consider what procedures were required to help transgender employees cross the gender line most compassionately, effectively and with the smallest financial burden.
WPATH liaison Jamison Green worked alongside as the company’s policy was being restructured. He said the coffee giant is the first company ever to partner with the charity. As Green sees it, “Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care.”
Last modified: June 27, 2018