Providing Gender Confirmation Surgery at an Academic Medical Center: Analysis of Use, Insurance Payer, and Fiscal Impact

Nick O. Esmonde, Aaron L. Heston, Tessalyn Morrison, Elspeth Rogers, Timothy Liem, Christopher Amling, Daniel D. Dugi, Juliana Hansen, Jens Urs Berli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Expansion of insurance coverage for gender confirmation surgery (GCS) has led to a large demand for GCS in the US. We sought to determine the financial impact of providing comprehensive GCS services at an academic medical center. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of patients older than 18 years who presented for GCS between January 1, 2015 and July 31, 2018 at a single academic medical center. The use of GCS services and associated work relative value units is reported. Departmental and hospital-level operating (profit) margins are reported relative to other hospital services, as well as the payer mix. Results: A total of 818 patients underwent 970 GCS procedures between January 2015 and July 2018. Mean (SD) age was 35.32 (12.84) years. Four hundred and ninety-three (60.3%) patients underwent a masculinizing procedure, and 325 (39.7%) had a feminizing procedure. The most commonly performed procedure was chest masculinization (n = 403). The GCS case volume grew to generate 23.8% (plastic surgery) and 17.8% (urology) of total annual departmental work relative value units, and was associated with positive operating margins after recouping new faculty hiring costs. There were positive operating margins for GCS procedures for the hospital system that compare favorably with other common procedures and admissions. Medicare and Medicaid remained the most common payer throughout the study period, but dropped from 70% in 2015 to 48% in 2018. Conclusions: We found that providing GCS at our academic medical center is profitable for both the surgical department and the hospital system. This suggests such a program can be a favorable addition to academic medical centers in the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-486
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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