Millions of Americans have already enrolled in new health insurance options, thanks to health reform, and millions more have the opportunity to do so this year. For those who want coverage for the new year, sign up by December 15, 2014—for everyone else, make sure to sign up by the final deadline of February 15, 2015.
With new affordable options, our friends and family can access quality healthcare, security, and peace of mind. The Affordable Care Act represents a new era for those of us who are LGBT, and now is the best time in history to get covered.
For many in our community, access to healthcare might not seem like as much of a priority as, say, marriage equality or employment nondiscrimination. But health is an equality issue, too. Why? Because LGBT people are disproportionately likely to be uninsured and face barriers to quality healthcare (such as poor treatment by healthcare providers and inequitable policies in healthcare facilities).
Luckily, with health reform, many of these barriers have been eliminated. Now, legally married same-sex spouses can enroll in a family plan and receive financial help as a family, no matter where they live. (Yes, even in Texas.) The law also includes new nondiscrimination protections, which make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against LGBT people. (Again, even in Texas.)
And, before the Affordable Care Act, insurers could refuse to cover people who are transgender, calling it a preexisting condition. Now, every American is guaranteed access to a health insurance plan, regardless of gender identity, and regardless of any preexisting conditions.
Health reform is also making insurance more affordable than ever to many LGBT people. Now, individuals whose annual income is between $11,670 and $46,680 (or between $23,850 and $95,400 for a family of four) may be eligible for financial help to purchase health insurance through the marketplace. So far, the vast majority of people who have enrolled in a new plan have qualified for some financial assistance. Visit www.HealthCare.gov today to see what you qualify for.
A health plan also provides financial security by protecting you from the unexpected. If you or a family member gets sick, you can focus on the care that you need without worrying about whether you’re covered or not. Every plan in the marketplace has to cover a minimum set of benefits, known as essential health benefits, which include doctor visits, hospital stays, preventive care, prescription drugs, and mental health services.
To spread the word about how LGBT people can benefit from getting covered, Out2Enroll is partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Lesbian Health Initiative (LHI), and many others in Houston. We’ve also got a new tool to connect you with free local help (in-person or by phone) to help you understand your new options.
Health reform has provided more opportunities than ever before for LGBT people to stay healthy. ’Tis the season to get covered. Be out. Be healthy. Get covered.