“During a time when the administration is making numerous, often confusing changes to health insurance, more consumer assistance is needed, not less."-- Laura Colbert, Executive Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future
Nationwide transgender individuals face significant barriers to accessing health care because of their gender identity; however, little is known about the experiences of the estimated 55,000 transgender individuals in Georgia as they interact with the health care system. Understanding the health care needs, access barriers, and discrimination experiences of transgender individuals in Georgia can inform the work of advocates, stakeholders, and policymakers to reach the shared goal of ensuring health equity for all Georgians, especially transgender Georgians.
To inform the public about these barriers to care, Georgians for a Healthy Future, Georgia Equality, and The Health Initiative are releasing a policy brief, Voices for Equity: How the experiences of transgender Georgians can inform the implementation of nondiscrimination provisions in the Affordable Care Act.
Voices for Equity: How the experiences of transgender Georgians can inform the implementation of the ACA’s nondiscrimination provisions
The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was notable not only for increasing access to health insurance coverage for millions of Americans but also for its broad non-discrimination provisions. Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in many health programs and activities. The final rule determined that discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping are equally prohibited under Section 1557, and as a result, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Georgians have protections from discrimination in health coverage and care for the first time. To better understand the challenges that transgender Georgians may face when accessing health care, GHF, GE, and THI collected data and information from transgender Georgians that provided compelling narrative of barriers that transgender individuals routinely face when seeking health care and utilizing their health insurance.
The goals of this policy brief are:
- describe the protections for transgender individuals under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.
- discuss the results from a series of transgender focus groups and survey of the LGBTQ community in Georgia, and the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey to understand transgender individuals’ experiences in health care.
- recommend actions that health care providers, policy makers, and advocates can take to support improved health care access and equity for transgender Georgians.
Resources for LGBT consumers
Thanks to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, LGBT Georgians have protections from discrimination in health coverage and care for the first time. If you believe you have been discriminated against, it is important to file a 1557 complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services. GHF and our partners can help you with that! Visit GHF’s LGBT Health Equity page for more information and help to file your complaint.
At Georgians for a Healthy Future, we pride ourselves on strong partnerships. Over the past few years, we have been collaborating with Georgia Equality and the Health Initiative to ensure that the health care needs of LGBT Georgians are not neglected.
These partnerships brought Whitney Griggs, GHF’s Consumer Education Specialist, to Savannah on September 12th for the annual Savannah Pride Festival. Together with the Health Initiative, Whitney distributed information related to LGBT health care needs and spoke to festival attendees about how to enroll in health insurance. Of particular interest was our joint fact sheet with Georgia Equality on Transgender Health Care. Some of the festival attendees who picked up this fact sheet shared stories of having been denied coverage due to being trans-identified in the past, but who can now get coverage that meets their needs because of the Affordable Care Act. People that stopped by the table were also interested to learn that health care services must be provided regardless of gender identity or expression. This means that health insurance plans must cover transition-related care, as long as that care is covered for cisgendered people under on the same plan. So services such as hormone replacement therapy and gender-specific care (like mammograms and prostate exams) must be covered if they are covered for other people enrolled in the same plan.
Whitney also gave out some tips for trans-identified folks to keep in mind when enrolling in health insurance:
- On all enrollment forms, check the sex box that matches the sex you believe is on file with the Social Security Administration.
- Some important questions to ask include:
- Is hormone replacement therapy covered?
- Is my doctor included in the plan’s network?
- Is there a network of trans-friendly doctors and/or doctors who have training working with or currently serve trans clients?
- Are reconstructive surgeries covered?
All in all, it was great day in Savannah (despite the rain) and people learned a lot from GHF and the Health Initiative.
If you have a specific question about LGBT health care and health insurance, feel free to reach out to Whitney Griggs at email@example.com or the Health Initiative at (404) 688-2524
Can health insurance navigators help consumers find LGBT-friendly plans? (Hint – yes they can!)
How can a consumer file a complaint if they experience discrimination?
What new health care rights and protections do transgender individuals have?
The Affordable Care Act makes health insurance and health care more understandable, more accessible, more affordable, and more comprehensive for Georgians, no matter their gender identity. Georgians for a Healthy Future and Georgia Equality have teamed up to develop a new set of LGBT specific fact sheets to answer some of these challenging questions that LGBT individuals and families face as they seek out, enroll in, and use their health coverage.
These fact sheets are intended to be a resource for individual consumers and for organizations who represent or provide services tailored to LGBT Georgians. You can view and download these new fact sheets below. If you would like hard copies to distribute to your members, clients, or community partners, please contact Laura Colbert, Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Community Outreach Manager.
By Em Elliott, Jeff Graham, and Amanda Ptashkin
Georgia Equality and Georgians for a Healthy Future have been working together within the larger Cover Georgia coalition to educate and advocate on the issue of Medicaid in Georgia. Under the Affordable Care Act, states have the option to create a new category of eligibility for Medicaid to cover low-income individuals and families, financed almost entirely with federal dollars. Implementing this expansion is the only viable way to cover Georgia’s low-income uninsured, and it will pump resources into our state’s healthcare delivery system. Many other states are also advocating for expansion and Community Catalyst, a national health care reform advocacy organization, came to us with some questions around advocacy, lessons on collaborative partnerships, and the way this issue effects the LGBTQ community.
Georgians for a Healthy Future and Georgia Equality are working together over the next several months to engage LGBTQ communities in implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to ensure that those individuals and families know how the new law will affect their access to health care. In an effort to explain how the Medicaid expansion and the creation of the new insurance marketplace, or exchange, will affect LGBTQ individuals, we have released two new publications, “Why Medicaid Expansion Matters to Georgia’s LGBT Community,” and “What Healthcare Reform Means to Georgia’s LGBT Community.” Be sure to check back on our site for more information about healthcare reform and how it will impact Georgia’s LGBTQ community.