Five Things LGBT Ohioans Need to Know about the Affordable Care Act

June 16, 2015

Columbus, OH – This month, Ohioans will come together in communities throughout the state for LGBT Pride Month events, which celebrate the many contributions and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. One key advancement for the LGBT community to celebrate this year is improved access to health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Though LGBT Americans often face unique obstacles when seeking health care, the Affordable Care Act included specific benefits and protections for the LGBT community that have helped to expand access to quality, affordable health coverage. In fact, according to a study by the Urban Institute, the uninsured rate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults has been almost cut in half since the middle of 2013. But many LGBT Ohioans still stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act and remain unaware of their options.

Here are five things LGBT Ohioans should know about how the Affordable Care Act can help them get covered and stay healthy:

  1. PLANS SOLD THROUGH THE HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE PROVIDE KEY PROTECTIONS FOR LGBT AMERICANS: Nobody can be denied preventive coverage because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression – providing historic new protections for the LGBT community. Additionally, people can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition like HIV or cancer.
  1. PLANS MUST OFFER KEY HEALTH BENEFITS TO EVERYONE: Every health plan must cover ten essential health benefits such as prescription medications, emergency room visits, and preventive services. Lifetime and annual caps on coverage are now also prohibited, which means historic new protections for HIV patients. Also insurance companies cannot deny transgender Americans free preventive services they need, regardless of their sex assigned at birth, their gender identity, or their recorded gender.
  1. ALL LEGALLY MARRIED COUPLES CAN ENROLL IN A PLAN THROUGH THE MARKETPLACE: Under the Affordable Care Act, legally married same-sex couples can enroll in a plan through the Marketplace, even if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
  1. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE TO HELP MAKE PLANS AFFORDABLE: Most Ohioans are eligible to receive financial assistance to help pay for their premiums. In fact, during the last enrollment period, 84% of Ohioans who signed up got help paying for health insurance, lowering their monthly premium.
  1. FREE, ONE-ON-ONE ENROLLMENT ASSISTANCE FROM CULTURALLY COMPETENT EXPERTS IS AVAILABLE: Ohioans can visit the Get Covered Connector to see where free, local enrollment assistance is available in their area and schedule an appointment. These enrollment assisters are trained before becoming certified to provide this assistance, including in matters of cultural competency.

In Ohio, Get Covered America is working with LGBT leaders and organizations across the state including Stonewall Columbus, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, and the Columbus Public Health LGBTQ Health Initiative to help LGBT Ohioans enroll. Get Covered America staff and volunteers will also be attending the Pride festivals in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland to let Ohioans know about their health care options.

Get Covered America also serves as part of the Greater Columbus LGBTQ Health Coalition and will be participating in the inaugural Central Ohio LGBTQ Health Equity Conference October 30-31, 2015. The conference will gather health care professionals, community members, advocates, and community leaders to address the health needs and disparities for the LGBT community and share knowledge on how to improve health care in this community.

Even though open enrollment has ended, there are still opportunities for Ohioans to enroll now through a special enrollment period through the Marketplace if they’ve experienced a life changing event like getting married, having a baby, or moving to a different coverage area. Enrollment in Medicaid is year-round for those that qualify.

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