There are three days left to #GetCovered under the Affordable Care Act. These next three days couldn’t be more important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans across the country.
Before the Affordable Care Act, an estimated one in three low- and middle-income LGBT Americans were uninsured. LGBT Americans are disproportionately affected by certain types of cancer, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and mental illnesses, which means that for many LGBT Americans, having health care is a matter of life or death.
But since President Obama signed the ACA into law, we’ve seen drastic improvement in the insured rates of LGBT Americans across the country, especially given that health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against LGBT Americans – because it’s the law. As a reminder, here are five (of the many) Affordable Care Act benefits for the LGBT community:
Since November of 2013, thousands of LGBT Americans have visited the Marketplace and enrolled in health care – many for the very first time. With our colleagues in HHS and partners at Out2Enroll, we’ve visited an HIV/AIDS service center in El Paso, TX; Metropolitan Community Church in Las Vegas, NV; festivals in Miami, FL; community events in Columbus and Cleveland, OH; and communities all across the country, where we’ve heard firsthand the stories of folks who have experienced life-changing coverage.
One of those stories is of a young woman from Houston, Texas named Aurora Harris. Aurora is 26 and works at the Lesbian Health Initiative to ensure that her LGBT peers get the health care they need. She is one of the 87 percent of Americans that got financial help to pay for her coverage through HealthCare.gov. And, last year, she saved more than $1,500 – an amount that meant the difference between life-saving care and simply hoping for the best. In Aurora's own words, "Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I can breathe easier, knowing I have health insurance. I want everyone – especially my LGBT family – to know that they can get covered, too.”
Because of the legacy of discrimination LGBT Americans have faced with respect to their health, or socioeconomic status, racial identity, and/or gender identity, many LGBT Americans aren’t aware of the anti-discrimination protections guaranteed by the ACA, and are sitting this Enrollment Period out. That’s why it’s so important that in these last three days, we spread the word about the benefits of the ACA and the February 15 deadline to our loved ones, teammates, classmates, coworkers, and fellow worshipers – because someone’s life might depend on it.
Aditi Hardikar is the Associate Director for the Office of Public Engagement.