Today is the third day we are celebrating National Women’s Health Week! It is important to understand the importance the law has on women in the LGBTQ community – an issue we will take up today. Continue to join us this week as we celebrate National Women’s Health Week!
Throughout this week – and if you have been following our blog – you know we have continued to highlight key features of health care reform that benefit women in Wisconsin. To name a few, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will eliminate and/or decrease financial barriers associated with preventive care, increase accessibility of care, reduce and/or eliminate wrongful industry practices and make care more affordable.
While the law may not end discrimination overall, it can contribute reducing disparities in health care outcomes and services. This is especially important to the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) community. For example, lesbian women are more likely than heterosexual women to delay getting health care services they need, according to a 2005 study. In the study, 75% of lesbian women answered that they have delayed health care – compared to 54% of heterosexual women.
You might ask: what are the contributing factors for lesbian women delaying health care services? Well, that’s a complicated, multilayered question; but to get a sense of how important this issue is, put this into perspective: 27% of lesbian women reported having had a bad experience with a health care provider – compared to 12% for heterosexual women – many times because they believe they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Further, a lack of LGBTQ civil rights, such as often being ineligible for spousal insurance benefits decreases access to health care services.
How is the ACA helping to reduce disparities related to health care and the LGBTQ community? First, LGBTQ individuals are disproportionately at risk of living in poverty. The ACA addresses this by expanding Medicaid so that low income individuals, including LGBTQ individuals, will be able to get coverage – regardless of their sexual orientation or income. Second, LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be uninsured and less likely to be able to gain coverage through a partner. The ACA makes insurance through the private market affordable through insurance exchanges – creating an accessible way to LGBTQ people to gain coverage.
Though specifics of LGBTQ and reporting data are not laid out in the law; the ACA does call for increased cultural competency among health care workers and identification of needed services among specific populations. With continued work and advocacy through health care reform, we can begin to close the gaps in coverage among LGBTQ women and their families!
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health is hosting its third annual Wisconsin Women’s Health Policy Summit – an event to collectively raise the status of women’s health in Wisconsin. Please check-in tomorrow for a summary of the event.
Be sure to follow us all year long on Twitter @healthywomenWI – and follow us throughout the day, today, as we will be tweeting about the event #WWHPS12.