LGBTQ+ subscribers to the "gold card" universal health scheme will have access to gender-affirming surgery in the next couple of months.
National Health Security Office (NHSO) secretary-general Jadet Thammathataree said on Saturday that gender-affirming surgery has been included in the scheme since 2018.
However, patients eligible for subsidised treatment must be diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a psychiatrist or with other related medical issues.
"From what we have seen, hospitals have sought reimbursements from the NHSO for gender-affirming surgeries performed mostly to correct atypical genitalia. There are about 100 such patients per year," said Dr Jadet.
Eligibility for gender-affirming surgery is not clear, so the NHSO will invite various groups to discuss a health package designed for transgender people. "It will include disease prevention, hormone intake before surgery and the recovery process.
"Some hormonal medications are not listed on the National List of Essential Medicines so we have to recheck," he said, referring to the list of drugs approved for use in treatment of diseases under the scheme.
When asked if patients must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or physician to get access to the NHSO's gender-affirming surgery, Dr Jadet said while gender diversity is not a disorder, if gender dysmorphia is left untreated, LGBTQ people might face emotional struggles.
"Gender-affirming surgery without a medical diagnosis is usually considered plastic surgery.
"If we specify [patients' symptoms] and if they fit the criteria for obtaining access to the NHSO, patients will be eligible. The diagnosis relies on a doctor's consideration, so prevents authorities from acting arbitrarily," said Dr Jadet.
The package being introduced in the next few months is designed to cover all costs related to gender-affirming surgery including facial feminisation procedures, breast surgery and vaginoplasty. Only subscribers to the gold card scheme can obtain gender-affirming surgery free of charge.