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LGBT Americans and Health Care – the Current Situation & What’s Ahead

bloodpressurecuffPublic opinion about gay rights issues have slowly become more favorable throughout the years, picking up steam in the last decade, especially. In fact, a recent Gallup poll shows that for the first time ever, a majority of Americans are in favor of gay marriage. Support of this can be seen in the increasing number of states that now grant full or partial marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Despite the growing acceptance rate, many members of the LGBT community are still feeling disenfranchised based on a number of key political and social issues. When it comes to health care, research shows that LGBT people are not on a level playing field with their heterosexual counterparts.

Uninsured gay men – 2:1 compared with straight men

Reasons behind this include current health insurance rules regarding pre-existing conditions and unequal workplace policies.

Survey findings about overall health

83 percent of heterosexual adults report having excellent or very good overall health. At 77 percent, the number of gay adults responding in this way is significantly less. Given that gays are less likely to have health insurance, this logistically makes sense. In addition, gay people have increased rates of cancer, depression and substance abuse.

Transgender Individuals and overall health

This group reports major dissatisfaction in the health care department. Only 67 percent of transgender people would say they have excellent or very good overall health. 50 percent report thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives, compared to only 2 percent of non-transgender individuals.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will work to bridge the divide between access to health insurance and health care in the lives of LGBT people. Below are some key provisions that will make a big difference.

  • Under the ACA, health insurance exchanges may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • LGBT Americans who could not afford health insurance in the past will be able to apply for Medicaid or may be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges.
  • As of 2014, health insurance companies are prohibited from denying coverage based on any pre-existing condition.
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