Improving health for LGBT Americans

President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act. Photo by Keith Ellison / CCA 2.0.

by Jason Young
Office of the White House

In this historic time, it’s important to recall that, for too long, the health concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals were pushed to the side. LGBT Americans faced limited access to health care and insurance. And we have been less likely to get the preventive care we need to stay healthy.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to promoting the health and well-being of all Americans, including LGBT Americans. The Affordable Care Act provides a foundation for achieving that goal.

The Affordable Care Act helps LGBT Americans in four major ways:

1.      Protecting our right to access quality, affordable health insurance. Starting in 2014, the health care law prevents insurers from denying coverage or charging a higher premium because of a pre-existing condition or because we are LGBT.

2.      Removing lifetime dollar limits on coverage. That means that people with chronic diseases, like HIV/AIDS, cancer and mental health concerns, can get the care they need. Starting in 2014, all annual limits will be illegal, too.

3.      Promoting wellness by requiring insurers to cover preventive care at no additional cost. LGBT adults and teens can get screened by a health professional for HIV and depression without paying co-pays or deductibles. Other preventive services, like cervical cancer screening for sexually active women, obesity counseling for people at risk, and well-woman visits are also covered at no extra cost.

4.      Helping more LGBT Americans find affordable health insurance. Starting October 1, 2013, all Americans without insurance and those looking for better options will have a new place to shop for plans, the Health Insurance Marketplace, and may qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums.

By protecting consumers, promoting prevention, and expanding access, HHS and the Affordable Care Act are now leading the way to greater equality, security, and wellness for LGBT Americans – one more reason this is a time to celebrate!

Jason Young is the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs/Health Care.

August 12, 2013