LGBT people make up for 3.5 percent of all Americans, bringing us to about nine million people. And, one in every three LGBT people don’t have health insurance (which is more than two times higher than the national average). The many health disparities that LGBT people face, such as societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of civil/human rights, are some of the reasons that many of us lack health coverage. For example, 82 percent of uninsured LGBT people reported discrimination in the process of getting on the same plan as their partner. But, times are changing: “Have No Fear! ObamaCare is here”!
ObamaCare, technically called the “Affordable Care Act”, or the ACA, is a (QUITE controversial) law, which ensures that all Americans have access to health insurance that is, just like its title says, affordable. the ACA was signed by President Obama in March of 2010, and went into effect Jan. 1, 2014. It makes affordable care possible by offering the consumers discounts or tax credits on government-sponsored health insurance plans, and expanding the Medicaid assistance program to include more people who don’t have it in their budgets to pay for health care.
Oct. 1, 2013 marked the official launch of open enrollment of the ACA. In February alone, some 700,000 people have enrolled and since the official launch over four million people have signed up for the ACA. With the deadline around the corner it’s not too late to get enrolled. If you haven’t signed yourself up for health insurance, you still have until March 31, 2014.
It is possible to buy insurance outside of the open enrollment period (ending March 31st, 2014) if you qualify for a special extended enrollment period due to a qualifying life event (such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of a job). People who opt out of all health coverage options will have to pay an “individual responsibility payment” (either 1% of your annual income or approx. $100/year), and will also have to pay the entire cost of all their medical care (with no government subsidies). For more information on opting out, click HERE.
The Affordable Care Act is not going to solve all the problems afflicting the health care system, and establishing care for so many previously uninsured people is bound to be complicated (and at times awkward). However, the ACA represents “one giant step for mankind”, toward addressing injustices in the health care realm, and connecting millions of Americans, including LGBT Americans, to the health care that they and their families need to live happier and healthier lives.
A study by the Center for American Progress discovered that a whopping 71% of uninsured LGBT people don’t know their options under the new healthcare act. LGBTQ people are less likely to be insured, and less likely to seek or be able to access preventative care. While the Affordable Care Act is in the beginning stages, this is the perfect opportunity to spread the word in our communities about the significantly expanded options available now, including:
- LGBT people and their families have equal access to coverage through the new Health Insurance Marketplaces in every state.
- Plans will cover a range of essential benefits such as doctor visits, hospitalizations, reproductive health, emergency-room care, and prescriptions.
- No one can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
- Financial help is available to pay for a health insurance plan, based on household size and income.
- There is family coverage that is inclusive of same-sex partners
Check out these powerful images below, and feel free to download and share!
Need help getting enrolled? Check out Out2Enroll.com
Need additional assistance? Many LGBT Centers around the country have received funding to train and provide “certified educators” to help community members
navigate ACA enrollment…call your local LGBT Center and make an appointment with an expert!
Also Check out our previous blog post about the ACA: