Although National Coming Out Week has recently wrapped up at BC, its efforts have extended onto the national political stage. While the government has been staging its massive struggle over Obamacare, liberal organization Out2Enroll has been heralding it as a boon to the LGBTQ community.
Out2Enroll demonstrates how Obamacare can be hailed as progressive for the additional reason that it alleviates healthcare burdens specific to the LGBTQ community. With gay marriage still not recognized in most states, gay couples are frequently not given the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, including spousal rights to use the other’s insurance policies.
In honor of National Coming Out Day on Friday, Out2Enroll's "Be Out. Be Healthy. Get Covered" campaign has launched a new LGBT-friendly website with advice about how to navigate the insurance marketplace. Kellan Baker, who heads the program, did focus groups and surveys with several hundred LGBT people and heard serious concerns about the current health care system, according to CNN.
Out2Enroll’s website describes the organization as “a collaborative effort… to educate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community about their options under the Affordable Care Act” with a mission to “cut through all the noise, wade through the partisan debate, and separate fact from fiction.” The website contains an FAQ about coverage options and finding care and, if you decide to get covered, sends up directly to the website based upon your state.
The gay community tends to struggle with specific health problems that especially need healthcare in order to be kept in check. Studies have shown that lesbians are less likely than other women to get routine screenings that could detect cervical and breast cancer. A woman's chances of surviving go up significantly if the cancers are caught early. In addition, gay men accounted for 63% of HIV infections in 2010, according to the CDC.
In light of facts like these, the Obama administration called a meeting of LGBTQ leaders to the White House in mid-September where they discussed the potential impact of Obamacare and how the leaders could spread the word about it. Bluntly put, “[Obamacare] is not about politics. It's about dignity,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Obamacare also notably contains a provision that prevents insurance companies from turning anyone away based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Preventative care like counseling for obesity, drug treatment, smoking cessation programs, and mental health are mandatory for insurance companies to cover under Obamacare. According to an Office on Women’s Health study, lesbians and bisexual women have a higher rate of stress, smoking, and obesity than the general population.
The current provisions of Obamacare may change, however, as the GOP continues its efforts to strip the law of its funding. Until that day should come, LGBTQ individuals and couples will look to Obamacare as another step towards equality.
Featured image via Dennis Bratland/Wikimedia Commons.