Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made in achieving equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, many LGBT individuals still face limited access to health care and insurance, and are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy.
Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it’s also known, directly addresses some of these needs, by:
- Protecting the right to access quality, affordable health insurance. Starting in 2014, the health care law prevents insurers from denying us coverage or charging us a higher premium because of a pre-existing condition or because we are LGBT.
- Removing lifetime dollar limits on coverage. That means that people with chronic diseases, like HIV/AIDS, cancer and mental health concerns, can get the care we need. And starting in 2014, all annual limits will be illegal, too.
- Promoting wellness by requiring insurers to cover preventive care at no additional cost. LGBT adults and teens can get screened by a health professional for HIV and depression without paying co-pays or deductibles. Other preventive services, like cervical cancer screening for sexually active women, obesity counseling for people at risk, and well-woman visits are also covered at no extra cost.
- Helping more LGBT Americans find affordable health insurance. Starting October 1, 2013, all Americans without insurance and those looking for better options will have a new place to shop for plans, the Health Insurance Marketplace, and may qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums.
The Affordable Care Act could truly transform the health and well-being of the LGBT community for generations to come, and the upcoming open enrollment period in the Health Insurance Marketplace, – from October 2013 to March 2014 – provides an important opportunity to get folks enrolled.
That’s why the White House Office of Public Engagement and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are teaming up to host a Briefing on Obamacare and the LGBT Community, this Thursday, September 13th. The event will include remarks by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as well as an exciting presentation of important new research on how LGBT communities perceive and access health care, and suggested messaging strategies for reaching key sub-communities.
And you can watch it live from home or work! Visit whitehouse.gov/live this Thursday, Sept. 12, starting at 1:15 pm EDT (10:15 am PDT) to tune in.
Gautam Raghavan is an Advisor in the White House Office of Public Engagement. Matthew Heinz, MD, is Director of Provider Outreach and Director of LGBT Outreach at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
(Editor's note: California residents can find out more about Obamacare by visiting the California Health Benefit Exchange.