As we celebrate LGBTQ Enrollment Week of Action, millions of Americans—including many LGBTQ people—are already covered by health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And millions more can get covered before January 31, 2017.
For many in the LGBTQ community, access to health care might not seem like much of a priority. But health is an LGBTQ equality issue. Why? Because the LGBTQ community faces health disparities in areas like obesity, smoking, cancer screening, and HIV. LGBTQ people are disproportionately likely to be uninsured and to face discrimination by health care providers when in need of care.
Health care reform has eliminated many of these barriers. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurers could refuse to cover transgender people or same-sex spouses. Now, every American has guaranteed access to a health insurance plan, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status, or any other preexisting condition.
The Affordable Care Act protects all LGBTQ people—including non-binary, gender nonconforming, and intersex people—from discrimination in health insurance and health care. Most hospitals or clinics can’t turn away or harass LGBTQ people just for being transgender or in a same-sex relationship. Marketplace plans can’t exclude all transition-related care, which helps ensure that transgender people can access the medically necessary care they need to live a happy and healthy life.
These nondiscrimination protections apply in every state, making coverage and health care better than ever before for LGBTQ people. If you face discrimination from a health insurer or a provider, we urge you to file a complaint with the regional Office for Civil Rights at www.hhs.gov/ocr.
Health reform also makes insurance more affordable for many LGBTQ people: in fact, 72 percent of people can find a plan for less than $75 a month. Make a free appointment with an LGBTQ-friendly expert who can help you understand your options.
We know more can and must be done to improve LGBTQ health, but now is the time to make the Affordable Care Act’s protections a reality for millions of LGBTQ people and families across the country.
With financial help and new nondiscrimination protections, there’s never been a better time to be out, be healthy, and get covered. Visit healthcare.gov today and enroll before the December 15 deadline.