Trends in Gender-affirming Surgery in Insured Patients in the United States

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Abstract

Background:

An estimated 0.6% of the U.S. population identifies as transgender and an increasing number of patients are presenting for gender-related medical and surgical services. Utilization of health care services, especially surgical services, by transgender patients is poorly understood beyond survey-based studies. In this article, our aim is 2-fold; first, we intend to demonstrate the utilization of datasets generated by insurance claims data as a means of analyzing gender-related health services, and second, we use this modality to provide basic demographic, utilization, and outcomes data about the insured transgender population.

Methods:

The Truven MarketScan Database, containing data from 2009 to 2015, was utilized, and a sample set was created using the Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis code. Basic demographic information and utilization of gender-affirming procedures was tabulated.

Results:

We identified 7,905 transgender patients, 1,047 of which underwent surgical procedures from 2009 to 2015. Our demographic results were consistent with previous survey-based studies, suggesting transgender patients are on average young adults (average age = 29.8), and geographically diverse. The most common procedure from 2009 to 2015 was mastectomy. Complications of all gender-affirming procedures was 5.8%, with the highest rate of complications occurring with phalloplasty. There was a marked year-by-year increase in utilization of surgical services.

Conclusion:

Transgender care and gender confirming surgery are an increasing component of health care in the United States. The data contained in existing databases can provide demographic, utilization, and outcomes data relevant to providers caring for the transgender patient population.

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