Blue Shield of California has announced they have configured their system to allow individuals to update their gender identity. Members will be able to self-identify as female, male, or non-binary. The new non-binary option supports the Gender Recognition Act that allows individuals to change their gender identity on California driver licenses and state ID cards as of January 1, 2019.
Blue Shield Supports the California Gender Recognition Act of 2017
From the Blue Shield announcement to agents.
The Gender Recognition Act allows Californians to obtain state-issued identity documents that list their gender as female, male, or nonbinary. Effective January 1, 2018, the nonbinary option under SB179 became available on official state documents. Starting September 1, 2018, Californians could start changing their gender on their birth certificate. And as of January 1, 2019, Californians could start changing their gender identity to nonbinary gender on their driver license and state ID card.
Blue Shield is supporting this law by adding a nonbinary option in our health plan records so that members can exercise their choice in selecting an option that more closely represents their gender.
Members who would like to update their gender identity in their profile should call the Member Services number on the back of their Blue Shield member ID card to speak with a Customer Care Representative. They will have the option to self-identify as female, male or non-binary. Click here or download our FAQs for more information, or visit the government page with detailed legislative information here.
Select Questions from Blue Shield’s FAQ Document on Non-binary Gender Option
Does SB 179 directly impose any requirements on health plans, health insurance companies or healthcare providers?
No, SB179 is not a healthcare law. SB179 is a state law for all Californians and the law enables Californians to change their gender on their official birth certificate, and to choose their gender identity on their state issued driver’s license or identification cards, to more accurately reflect their gender identity without requiring supporting documents beyond a self-certification of their chosen gender identity category.
What does this California state law change?
The new state law eliminates the requirement that an individual need to pursue clinical treatment in order to be granted a legal gender identity or name change from the gender they were assigned at birth. This enables Californians to choose among male, female or nonbinary as their gender identity on state issued driver’s license or identification cards to more accurately reflect their gender identity without requiring supporting documents beyond a self-certification of their chosen gender identity category.
Will healthcare coverage be impacted?
NO. The Gender Recognition Act is not a healthcare law. A person’s gender identity will not impact their ability to obtain healthcare coverage or affect the benefits they are entitled to. Applicable laws do not allow discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, marital status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or disability. (SB 223 – 2018, Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act – 2013 (Cal. Health & Safety Code Section 1365.5).
How is Blue Shield supporting a member’s request to identify their gender as female, male or nonbinary gender?
Blue Shield has added a gender identity category to align with the new state law even though health insurance companies are not required to do so. As an organization, Blue Shield recognizes our members whose gender identity is female, male or nonbinary. We want to honor any employee, and member their wish to be recorded as the gender they identify with. We hope this new category will help us navigate their healthcare options with more clarity. With respect to all enrollees, we should not use gendered forms of address such as “Mr.” and “Mrs.”, “He/She”. We should ask the enrollee which pronoun(s) they prefer to be addressed as (“he,” “him,” “she,” “her,” “they,” “them”).
Does Blue Shield require a member or subscriber to provide/select a gender identity?
No. Blue Shield has added the gender identity option of female, male or nonbinary as an option for a member or subscriber to select if they identify as neither male nor female.
Does Blue Shield require a member or subscriber to provide their birth gender, male or female in the “Gender” category?
Yes. We need the member/subscriber to select male or female options for their physical sex assigned at birth. This is needed for the enrollment process.
Is there a minimum age for a minor to be authorized, to call Customer Care and request the nonbinary value be updated in the Gender Identity field?
Yes. If the individual is the age of 17 and younger, the subscriber, a parent(s)or legal guardian should petition for the optional gender identity update to be made in Blue Shield’s system for a minor.
Blue Shield is not requiring “proof” or a form to be filled in by the subscriber or legal guardian to authorize and update their gender identity to female, male or nonbinary when they call Customer Care. Customer Care can make the gender identity profile update per the request from the legal guardian.
Does Blue Shield need a form of “proof” if the member wants to change their gender, male/female?
Yes. If the member wants to change their gender from male to female, female to male in our records, this request requires a Birth Certificate, or any Government issued ID card as a proof. We can’t request for any medical documentation for a gender change.
Does Blue Shield need a form of “proof” if the member has a Blue Shield Promise plan and they want to change their gender identity as either male, female, transgender: female to male, or transgender: male to female?
No. An individual can choose their gender identity as either male, female, transgender: female to male, or transgender: male to female, and verification of gender identity is not required.