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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 29 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 35
Obamacare helps LGBT community, but we still lag behind in healthcare - Report discrimination, WA Insurance Commissioner says
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Obamacare helps LGBT community, but we still lag behind in healthcare - Report discrimination, WA Insurance Commissioner says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, has benefited LGBT Americans more than our straight neighbors, but we are still more likely than straight people to lack health insurance, a new study shows.

The study, done by Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar Gary J. Gates based on data collected by Gallup, was released August 26.

The data was collected from June 2013 through June 2014, so it includes periods before and after Obamacare went into effect. According to the study, the number of uninsured LGBT Americans dropped 4.4 points after the law took effect, compared to 3.5 points for straight people.

'These data suggest that LGBT adults benefited from the increased access to health care insurance created by the ACA,' Gates said in a statement. 'But gaps in coverage between LGBT and non-LGBT adults persist.'

For example, 17.6% of LGBT Americans still lack health insurance, compared to only 13.2% of straight people.

'The findings in this study are consistent with several recent studies showing that economic disadvantages are common in an LGBT community that too often experiences stigma and discrimination,' Gates added.

'These disadvantages are likely an important factor in explaining why LGBT Americans report less access to health care and many negative health and well-being outcomes compared to their non-LGBT counterparts.'

Gates also found that more than a quarter of LGBT adults (25%) reported that they had a time in the last year when they did not have enough money to pay for healthcare or medicines for themselves or their families. This compares to 17% of non-LGBT adults.

LGBT adults, particularly LGBT women, are also more likely than straight individuals to report that they do not have a personal doctor. Among all adults, 29% of LGBT individuals did not have doctor compared to 21% of non-LGBT individuals.

Among women, the gap was 29% for LGBT women compared to 16% for straight women. The difference in men was not statistically significant.

The research was based on more than 6,000 interviews with LGBT adults 18 or older, and more than 166,000 interviews with straight adults.

'These Gallup data represent the largest survey of health and well-being that allows for identification of LGBT respondents,' according to Gallup's media release.

Report discrimination, WA Insurance Commissioner says
Washington residents who experience discrimination in healthcare coverage should contact the state's Insurance Commissioner, his spokesperson told SGN.

'If there's an insurance company that's discriminating, that's against the law,' spokesperson Stephanie Marquis told SGN.

'If it's an employer that's refusing to cover you under a company policy, we would share that information with the Attorney General and the state Human Rights Commission.

'If you're being denied treatment, we also want to know,' she added. 'Basically, if there's any problem you can feel free to call us, and we'll steer you to the right agency.'

Washington residents with complaints or questions about their rights to healthcare insurance can call 1-800-562-6900 or email askmike@oic.wa.gov.

Discrimination in insurance coverage on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was outlawed in 2006 in Washington State's Law Against Discrimination (RCW 49.60), and both Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have issued recent rulings to combat anti-LGBT bias.

In June, Kreidler informed insurance companies doing business in Washington that they must offer coverage for medically necessary procedures related to gender reassignment. The same month, Ferguson ruled that companies must provide the same spousal benefits, like health insurance, to same-sex spouses that they offer to opposite-sex spouses.

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