US Companies Begin to Offer Sex Reassignment in Insurance Benefits

U.S companies are swiftly adding health insurance benefits for employees who want to transition to another gender, a fairly inexpensive way to show they’re serious about a diverse workforce because so few people actually use them.

More than 415 of about 780 firms surveyed for their friendliness toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers now cover related procedures, including hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgeries, according to the Human Rights Campaign. That’s more than double the number in 2012, and up from just 49 in 2009.

Netflix Inc., Facebook Inc. and Tesla Motors Inc. are among 82 companies added to the Washington-based HRC’s list this year. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may consider adding benefits in the future; Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has offered them since 2008, the companies said.

“It becomes a bit of a rat race as to who can out-commit whom,” with diversity initiatives, said James Baron, a professor who studies human resources at the Yale School of Management. “Committing to this form of equality allows a company to put another arrow in its quiver without terribly profound cost implications.”