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Affording Gender Affirmation Surgery

Ways to Pay for Transgender Surgery Expenses
Rebecca Safier
Rebecca SafierUpdated March 27, 2023
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Gender affirmation surgery can be expensive, even if you have health insurance. Costs for individual procedures may be as much as $25,000. Patients who undergo multiple procedures could see costs go even higher. Paying for these costs upfront is unrealistic for many people, but fortunately, there are financing options that can help. Taking out a personal loan, using a credit card, or opting for a payment plan are a few of the strategies to consider when it comes to how to pay for gender reassignment surgery. 

What Does Gender Affirmation Surgery Cost?

Gender affirmation surgery can range anywhere from $3,000 to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the procedure and provider. 

Common Gender Reassignment Surgery Costs

The type of surgery you get, as well as the provider you choose, can impact the gender reassignment surgery cost. Masculinization chest surgery, also known as top surgery, can cost $3,000 to $10,000, according to Longwood Plastic Surgery. Chest surgery for a male-to-female transition may cost between $5,000 and $10,000. This is something to keep in mind as you’re thinking about how to pay for top surgery.  Healthcare company Ro says that bottom surgeries can cost $6,400 to $24,900 for female-to-male bottom surgery and around $25,000 for male-to-female bottom surgery. Apart from the surgery, you may also have to prepare for additional expenses related to travel, recovery, or time off from work. Recommended: Need to Borrow Money? 9 Ways to Consider

Does Health Insurance Cover Transgender Surgeries?

Health insurance coverage for gender affirmation surgery varies by plan. Some will cover transition surgeries and hormone treatments, but they may exclude certain procedures that the health insurance company deems to be cosmetic. In a 2015 National Center for Transgender Equality survey, 25% of respondents said their insurance company had denied them coverage for hormone therapy. In total, 55% said they were denied coverage for insurance, and 42% only got partial coverage. Reach out to your plan provider to find out exactly what surgeries it covers and how much coverage it provides. If you feel your insurance company’s actions constitute illegal sex discrimination, consider filing a complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance. 

6 Ways to Pay for Transgender Surgery Expenses

Here are some financing options to consider as you’re planning out how to pay for gender reassignment surgery and related procedures, including the various kinds of personal loans, credit cards, and other options. 

Personal Loans 

One option is a personal loan. With a personal loan, you get a lump sum that you typically pay off in regular monthly installments over time. You can find a personal loan from a variety of financial institutions, including banks, online lenders, and credit unions. Personal loan amounts often go up to $50,000, but some lenders offer as much as $100,000 to borrowers who qualify. Personal loan rates are typically less expensive than interest rates on some other lending products, such as credit cards. The stronger your credit, the lower the interest rate you may get. Some lenders let you apply with a cosigner or co-borrower if your credit is poor. There are different types of personal loans, including medical loans. Personal loans can also be used for consolidating medical bills or other types of debt. One of the benefits of personal loans is that they generally provide fast funding — often within a few days or less. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of personal loans before you borrow. 

Family Loan 

If you have a family member able and willing to lend you money, that could be another option for paying for gender affirmation surgery. However, before borrowing a loan from a family member, have a frank conversation about repayment expectations. Write down whether you’ll be expected to make a monthly payment, including how much it will be and when you’ll pay it. If there’s interest attached to the loan, write that down, too, so everyone has a record of the loan details. Failing to repay a family loan could strain or damage relationships, so be sure you will be able to pay back the money.

Credit Cards 

Credit cards could also be an option, but they often have high interest rates. If you have decent credit, you could apply for a credit card with a 0% APR promotional period that spans anywhere from 12 to 21 months. The card won’t accrue interest charges during this time, though you will have to pay interest if you still carry a balance when the introductory period ends. You also can’t charge more than your credit limit, which may or may not be enough to cover surgery costs. It might also be worth exploring a medical credit card, such as CareCredit. CareCredit is specifically designed for medical bills and has a variety of financing options that may help you cover surgery expenses. 

Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit 

If you’re a homeowner with sufficient equity in your house, you could borrow against it with a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). You can usually borrow up to 85% of your home equity. A home equity loan is an installment loan that you pay off over five to 30 years. It offers a lump sum of funding upfront and may come with a fixed or variable interest rate. A HELOC is a line of credit that you can draw upon as needed and pay off as you go. It usually comes with a variable interest rate. Borrowing against your home may come with a lower interest rate than what you’d get on a personal loan. However, these loans use your home as collateral, so you could risk going into foreclosure if you overextend yourself and can’t pay back your loan or HELOC. 

Surgery Grant 

Some organizations offer grants for gender-affirming surgery, which you don’t need to pay back. These groups include: Each group has its own rules, so check their websites for guidelines, funding amounts and availability, and application deadlines. 

Payment Plan

Your provider may offer a payment plan that lets you split up the costs of surgery over a period of time. The provider may partner with a loan or credit card company to provide this option, and you might have to pay interest and fees. Look over the payment plan details before agreeing to it to make sure you can afford the monthly payment. If the costs seem steep, it may be worth shopping around on your own for a loan or credit card to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. 

The Takeaway

The costs for gender affirmation surgery can be steep, and your healthcare plan may not provide sufficient coverage. If you’re looking for financing strategies, consider your options for a personal loan, 0% APR credit card, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit (HELOC). You could also find out if your healthcare provider offers a payment plan to divide up the costs of the surgery over time. Finally, check out nonprofit organizations that provide grants for gender confirmation surgery. These grants could go a long way toward covering your medical costs. If you decide a personal loan is right for financing your surgery, Lantern can make it fast and easy to compare personal loan options. With our online tool, you can get offers from multiple lenders all at once to help choose the one with the most favorable rates and terms for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I afford gender-affirming surgery costs?
Does health insurance cover transgender surgeries?
How much does gender affirmation surgery cost?
Photo credit: iStock/Lyalya Go

About the Author

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier has nearly a decade of experience writing about personal finance. Formerly a senior writer with LendingTree and Student Loan Hero, she specializes in student loans, financial aid, and personal loans. She is certified as a student loan counselor with the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC).
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