The Time Is Now: Deadline To Enroll In Affordable Care Approaches

By |2014-03-13T09:00:00-04:00March 13th, 2014|Guides, Health & Wellness|

Enrollment opportunities and campaigns encouraging people to sign up for insurance coverage on the Healthcare Exchange are everywhere, but for LGBT individuals it can be a daunting task.
“Many LGBT individuals and their families have been left out when it comes to health insurance. It has been hard to find coverage that treats our families fairly, covers the care that we need, and doesn’t break the bank. Access to affordable health insurance can help address the health disparities that exist because of sexual orientation or gender identity, provide critical preventative care, and ensure that all individuals and families can get the care they need without going bankrupt,” states the new guide for LGBT people called Where to Start? What to Ask: A Guide for LGBT People Choosing a Healthcare Plan.
The guide is a collaborative effort of over a dozen organizations including Transgender Law Center, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Family Equality Council, Raising Women’s Voices and the Brown Boi Project. It covers many important topics like cost and coverage, reproductive healthcare, mental health, HIV/AIDS, LGBT kids and youth, the definition of family, transgender healthcare, and reporting discrimination.
Open enrollment ends Mar. 31, and those who wait longer face penalties. Every insurance plan sold through the marketplace must cover essential health benefits and they are barred from discriminating based on previous health conditions, or on LGBT status.
Healthcare.gov has representatives available 24/7 to assist with filling out the paperwork and answering questions, and exemptions are available for those with financial hardships.
The guide also addresses the fact that health insurance providers can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, including HIV/AIDS. One suggestion is to find an LGBT-friendly physician. A local list is available at www.PrideSource.com, or the Gay & Lesbian Medical association has country-wide list.
For transgender people seeking healthcare, there may still be more questions than answers. “Starting Jan. 1, health insurance companies can no longer use ‘pre-existing conditions’ as a reason to deny you a coverage plan. For transgender people, this means that having a diagnosis of ‘gender identity disorder’ in your health record can no longer be used as a reason to refuse to sell you a health insurance plan.
“With that barrier removed, there are still ongoing questions about what transition-related and gender-specific care you can expect your insurance plan to cover. The ACA’s nondiscrimination section includes protection based on gender identity, so we expect that health plans offered through the state marketplaces will cover some transition-related care, as long as those services are covered for other people on that plan.
“Types of care likely to be covered include hormone replacement therapy, gender-specific care (such as mammograms, pap smears, and prostate exams), and organ removal (orchiectomy, hysterectomy/oophorectomy). Mastectomies may be covered, and genital surgeries may or may not be, depending on the plan.”
The guide also includes a list of resources, and places where individuals can report discrimination.

The complete guide is available for download at http://strongfamiliesmovement.org/lgbt-health-care-guide.

About the Author:

Crystal A. Proxmire
Crystal Proxmire is the editor and publisher of The Oakland County Times. She loves covering municipal governance and cheering on community efforts.