It is estimated that one in four LGBT people nationwide who qualify for financial aid to buy health plans are still uninsured. Seeking health care can be a daunting task for many members of our community, with discrimination and a lack of understanding being very real concerns. That is why the LGBT Task Force of Health Care for All NY (HCFANY) is sponsoring the LGBT Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment Week this week until January 16.
This week will feature multiple events and opportunities for LGBT people to learn about their coverage options and to meet with patient navigators to help start the application process before the February 15 open enrollment deadline. New York City Council Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson said, "This week, we are getting the word out to LGBT New Yorkers in all five boroughs: Get enrolled, get covered! All New Yorkers deserve quality, affordable health insurance."
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), new health plans are available that are already starting to reduce the LGBT uninsured rate in New York and nationwide. The ACA prohibits discrimination in health coverage based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression and prohibits denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Same-sex married couples and any children they may have are also eligible for family coverage. Additionally, many members of our community are not aware that due to a groundbreaking new policy change, all private health plans in the state of New York now include coverage of medically necessary gender transition services. As a result, LGBT community leaders and elected officials are urging uninsured LGBT New Yorkers to apply for coverage through the NY State of Health marketplace and LGBT-friendly patient navigators.
At Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Chelsea, one of the LGBT-friendly agencies participating in this week's events, almost 3,000 individuals (many of whom were previously uninsured) have already enrolled in coverage under the Affordable Care Act. At a press conference at Callen-Lorde on Monday, Star Morris, manager of insurance navigation for Callen-Lorde, said, referencing the organization's slogan, “’We Get You’ and we really can help get you health care." Callen-Lorde's executive director Jay Laudato put the importance of getting insured simply, "Health care plus health coverage changes health outcomes." Other LGBT-friendly participants this week include the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan, Voces Latinas in Queens, GMHC, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Community Service Society and Make the Road NY, all of whom belong to the HCFANY.
For more information about remaining health insurance outreach events, visit hcfany.org.