(HealthDay News) — Providing sex reassignment surgery and hormone treatment for transgender men and women is cost-effective, according to a study published online recently in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Most US health plans don’t pay for surgery and hormone treatment, but a Johns Hopkins-led investigation found that these treatments don’t cost much more than treatment for depression, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS. These health problems are common among transgender people who can’t undergo medical transition.

In the first five years, the cost of sex reassignment surgery and hormone treatment is between $34,000 and $43,000 per year of quality of life. After 10 years, the cost drops to between $7,000 and $10,000 per year of quality of life, the researchers said.

“Providing health care benefits to transgender people makes economic sense,” study leader William Padula, PhD, an assistant professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a university news release. “Many insurance companies have said that it’s not worth it to pay for these services for transgender people. Our study shows they don’t have an economic leg to stand on when they decide to deny coverage. This is a small population of people, and we can do them a great service without a huge financial impact on society.”

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