LGBT Health Awareness Week is an important time to highlight the progress our country is making to address the unique health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans, especially through implementation of the health care law, the Affordable Care Act.
Studies have shown that health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identity are due in part to lower rates of health coverage and a lack of cultural competency in the health care system. The Affordable Care Act is already helping millions of Americans gain access to care by creating coverage options for people with pre-existing conditions, and under the law, beginning in 2014, every American will have access to health care through Affordable Insurance Exchanges, new competitive marketplaces where Americans will be able to purchase affordable coverage and have the same choices of insurance that members of Congress will have. These same benefits are or will be available to LGBT Americans across the country.
The Affordable Care Act also strengthens training for health care providers, devotes new resources to improving our primary care workforce, and increases funding for community health centers, where patients are served regardless of how much they can afford to pay. We know that members of the LGBT community may be more likely to be underinsured or uninsured, making the Affordable Care Act all the more important.
In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services continues to address the specific health concerns of LGBT Americans, including by working to incorporate data collection on LGBT populations into national health surveys, releasing rules requiring hospitals to allow same-sex partners the ability to visit each other in the hospital, and setting up an internal working group that ensures we are effectively coordinating policies to best address LGBT health needs across every agency in the Department.
Our Department is committed to improving the health of all Americans, including LGBT Americans, and we look forward to continuing this work during LGBT Health Awareness Week and beyond.
For more information on how the Department is working to improve LGBT Health and Well-being, visit www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/lgbthealth_update_2011.html .
Read the Departments recommendations for future LGBT Health improvements at www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/lgbthealth.html .
Learn how health reform is giving LGBT Americans more control over their health care at www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/01/new-options-for-lgbt-americans.html .