It’s LGBT health awareness week, and today we’d like to spend some time talking about a few of the ways the Affordable Care Act will affect LGBTQ Latin@s. Shall we?
Medicaid expansion: We’ve already talked about this some before, but it’s important to mention here that the ACA will expand Medicaid eligibility dramatically, and will cover U.S. citizens and eligible immigrants up to 133% of the federal poverty line. This is absolutely crucial to LGBTQ Latin@s. People of color are disproportionately poor, and most available data suggests that LGBTQ folks are disproportionately poor as well. The data that we have that looks at both, such as the data from the Latin@ subset of the Trans Discrimination Survey, suggest extreme levels of poverty. What this means is that LGBTQ Latin@s and people of color stand to benefit greatly from a Medicaid expansion, and that it will bring health care to many LGBTQ folks that did not have it before. Not included in this expansion, unfortunately, are undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents who have had that status for less than five years, many of whom are undoubtedly LGBTQ-identified. We’ve gotta keep fighting the good fight to get these folks covered.
Data Collection: One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act is geared toward improving data collection, and we were incredibly pleased to see that last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a plan to expand data collection on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender populations. The plan calls for the integration of sexual orientation and gender identity questions into national health data collection surveys, and will not only bring to light important issues on LGBT health and health disparities, but having these numbers also will facilitate the funding needed to create and implement relevant public health interventions.
The end of pre-existing conditions exclusions: Again, this is something we’ve already talked about, but it is worth mentioning again here. This obviously applies to any LGBTQ-identified person who may be diabetic, has had a c-section, or any number of common health issues (i.e. lots of people), but this is especially important for transgender Latin@s. Under many private plans, simply being transgender is a “pre-existing condition” and reason for exclusion. This means that folks could get denied insurance on these grounds, or that if they were insured that any ongoing care relating to gender re-alignment (including every day care such as hormones) would not be covered. This is clearly unacceptable, and we’re really glad to see it go.
We were also excited to hear that the exchanges may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in their activities, and insurance plans offered within them must include a list of essential health benefits including preventive and mental health services.
Stay tuned for more on how our communities stand to benefit from the Affordable Care act in 20 Days of ACA!