WASHINGTON (CSBDC) — Hundreds of U.S. companies are adding sex reassignment as a health insurance benefit in an effort for an equality push.

The new move indicates that companies are taking interest in a diverse and accepting work places, and it’s fairly inexpensive given that so few people actually use the benefit, according to Bloomberg Business.

More than 415 out of about 780 firms surveyed say they cover related procedures that include hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgeries, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In 2009, only 49 of the companies surveyed included such benefits.

The companies include Netflix, Facebook, and Tesla Motors. HRC notes Wal-Mart is considering benefits in the future and that Goldman Sachs has offered them since 2008.

“It becomes a bit of a rat race as to who can out-commit whom,” James Baron, a professor who studies human resources at the Yale School of Management, told Bloomberg. “Committing to this form of equality allows a company to put another arrow in its quiver without terribly profound cost implications.”

Previous research indicates that only about one in 10,000 to 20,000 employees per year typically use the gender transition coverage. A University of California at Los Angeles study states that few than a dozen people out more than 100,000 have used the benefits yearly and that the average claims cost was around $30,000. Doctors say they have seen a rush of surgeries related to gender change in recent years. Medical experts say a full transition from one sex to another can cost more than $150,000.

Experts say regardless of regulations, that other companies will likely offer similar benefits as time goes on due to competition and peer pressure.

HRC, which gathers data relating to LGBT employees every year, required companies to offer at least $75,000 worth of related benefits and require other standard of care, like counseling, to be counted on the list as offering transgender coverage. The U.S. government has also supported new policies that would prohibit insurance companies from “categorically denying” coverage for  transition treatment. The rules wouldn’t require for insurers to cover all procedures, but would probably call for wider coverage for treatments like hormone therapy.


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