Huffington Post LGBT Wellness

Honestly, Signing up for Obamacare Was Hard but Worth It

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 It’s a bit embarrassing to admit how difficult it was to sign up for health insurance on the new exchanges. As a public health professional who’s trying hard to spread the word that people need to #GetCovered, I was trying to studiously ignore how every time I called there was some problem in signing up. Ultimately, it seemed to be related to my name change. Maybe it was more complicated because I only have a single name? I just hope every trans person doesn’t have to go through some of the hoops I did in proving they are U.S. citizens, because I know it delayed my enrollment by months.

One of the myths about these health insurance exchanges is they are only for the uninsured among us, or only for low-income folk. Actually the exchanges offer a chance of better health insurance for many of us. For example, I was already enrolled in health insurance, but to my dismay it didn’t cover any testosterone, which left me skipping some months then finally shelling out $400/month through clenched teeth. Plus, my health insurance didn’t include dental coverage, so I carefully unclenched those teeth again.

To be honest, I had to call the Rhode Island health insurance exchange probably eight times. First there was the complication of not living in the same state as my partner. While some private insurance plans would cover us both, the exchanges wouldn’t. Then they asked me to send in my drivers license and social security card to prove I was a citizen. So I scanned and uploaded them to the site then I waited for some notice it was ok to proceed… and crickets. It’s easy to put off enrolling like it’s easy to put off writing a will. Nothing bad is going on now, right? With three teenagers and a busy job, I had lots of other things competing for my attention. But once a month, as I shelled out that $400 for hormones, I kept remembering that maybe that insurance exchange could do this better?

So I called back and filled out more of the application with the friendly person on the line. But now they needed to know how much my kids’ health insurance premiums were. Really? I am not the parent who pays them, so why did it matter? It stopped me again, until that $400 payment came again and I was motivated to track down the info and called back. This time, they needed even more information about my name change. I was definitely trying hard not to curse the insurance exchanges at this point. Remember, the party line is #GetCovered. Repeat until you believe it. Or better yet, go back and watch the hilarious SNL skit on the early website problems. I’ve watched it so many times now I can do a fair impersonation of their Sebelius impersonator.

Ultimately, it was the coming deadline which moved me off my duff again. If people don’t get enrolled by March 31st, it’s see ya later until next year’s open enrollment period. So, I found my birth certificate, my legal name change document and uploaded them to the site. And voila — they finally admitted I was a U.S. citizen. I could choose a plan!

But wait, the runaround stop didn’t stop there. I wasn’t going to sign up for another plan that didn’t include hormones. Plus, I needed to make sure my trans-friendly doc was in their plan. That took four more confusing calls, this time to Blue Cross. But everything was included. And I was going to get sweet dental coverage for the whole family too, including 50 percent of my kids’ braces costs. I signed up like lightning.

I can’t lie; it was a total hassle for me to sign up and it could be for you too, but trust me it’s worth the hassle. I was cursing the insurance exchanges before but now I say bring on the new coverage as fast as it can come. Remember, we’ve only got until March 31st to sign up so spread the word. Visit Out2Enroll for more information and find more social media friendly images on the CenterLink Network for LGBT Health Equity blog here.

——

Dr. Scout, Director

The Network for LGBT Health Equity

As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scout-phd/obamacare-enroll-health-insurance-exchange_b_4961096.html?utm_hp_ref=lgbt-wellness

 
Follow Scout, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/scoutout
Uncategorized

It’s Not Too Late To Get Covered!

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Felecia King
Project Specialist
The Network for LGBT Health Equity
 

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!

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part three

Health Care

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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:

https://lgbthealthlink.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/out2enroll-getting-lgbt-communities-connected-to-care/

LGBT Policy · Resources · social media · Uncategorized

Out2Enroll: Getting LGBT communities connected to care!

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Network for LGBT Health Equity
Out2Enroll LGBT Communities 
 #GetCovered 
 
 
 

The Network for LGBT Health Equity, along with CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers would like to announce the roll-out of our #GetCovered ad campaign, highlighting the experiences of uninsured and underinsured LGBT folks and the barriers they faced accessing healthcare prior to the Affordable Care Act. We hope that it both educates and motivates people to visit Out2Enroll to sign up before the open enrollment window closes on March 31st, 2014!

Out2Enroll is a collaboration by the Sellers Dorsey Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the Federal Agencies Project to educate LGBTQI communities about their options under the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”).

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

Want more information? Check out this report or head right to Out2Enroll.org!

*And remember! In order to get health insurance coverage by January 1st 2014, you must enroll by December 15th 2013!

Check out the powerful images below, and feel free to download and share (Click to enlarge). This campaign will have a series of phases, with more photographs being posted to our blog and social media channels- so stay tuned!

O2E.1.ScoutO2E.2.RiaKikiO2E.1.Louis

O2E.1.DeNierO2E.1.DianeO2E.1.TexO2E.1.Ziggy

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O2E.1.Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We want to send out a huge thank you to the folks who shared their stories with us! Also a big thanks to the organizations that we have co-branded with- Center for Black Equity, Trevor Project, and GetEqual.

Would your organization like to co-brand with us on any of the above ads? Send us an email at lgbthealthequity@gmail.com!