Optimizing LGBT Health Under the Affordable Care Act: Strategies for Health Centers

The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) is expected to expand insurance coverage to millions of Americans starting in 2014. Among those most in need of access to affordable health insurance and high-quality health services are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Research has shown that same-sex couples and their children are more likely to lack health insurance compared to families headed by heterosexual couples. For many, this is due to a lack of access to employer-sponsored coverage through a same-sex partner or spouse. Other LGBT people have been unable to find coverage due to a pre-existing condition such as HIV, or because they cannot find employment due to discrimination. For transgender people in particular, health insurance coverage related to gender transition or often any care at all is frequently difficult to obtain.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognizes that the LGBT population experiences significant disparities in health and health care access, including disproportionately high rates of tobacco use and HIV infection, frequent encounters with violence and homelessness, and elevated rates of depression and suicide attempts, as well as reduced access to preventive health services. These disparities are rooted in a long history of discrimination in health care and overall societal bias against LGBT people.

This article was originally published in The National LGBT Health Education Center.