Manager of Public Policy, PROMO Missouri
Gaining access to affordable health insurance has never been easier. Thanks to Healthcare.gov, LGBT folks are able to research and choose a marketplace plan that fits their individual or family needs and purchase the plan – all free from discrimination. This is an amazing step forward for the LGBT community, and a life-saving one for many.
The failure of many state legislatures, including my own in Missouri, to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination has negatively impacted their health. Specifically in Missouri, research shows that LGBT Missourians are twice as likely to forgo care both preventative and in cases of emergency compared to our heterosexual peers according to the Missouri Foundation for Health.
The insurance marketplace (Healthcare.gov) has been set-up to include nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender folks can peruse marketplace plans and be their authentic self, free from the fear of discrimination.
During the 2014 enrollment period, PROMO launched its LGBT Welcoming Spaces program for navigators and CACs, who help community members navigate the healthcare marketplace. The program focuses on education for navigators, assistors, and CACs on LGBT health and ways to help them visibly make their organizations LGBT welcoming.
In Missouri, welcoming spaces can be identified by searching for the above ‘Welcoming Space’ image. Seeing this symbol indicates that their organization has completed the necessary requirements to be LGBT Welcoming. Visible signs of being LGBT friendly, including the adoption of the welcoming spaces images, are tools that we’ve provided to health and social service organizations to utilize.
Living in a state that does not protect against discrimination, it is imperative that we continue to create spaces in our health and social service organizations that are welcoming to all.