Last week the Health Insurance Marketplaces, created under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), opened for enrollment. Each state’s Marketplace will serve as a one-stop-shop, allowing individuals and families to compare, apply for and enroll in a health insurance plan all in one location. Every American will be able to buy insurance directly through his or her Marketplace website, hotline, or physical office and receive assistance from unbiased consumer-assistance agents called “Navigators.”
Because LGBT Americans are more likely to live in poverty and face employment discrimination in many states, it is no surprise then, that LGBT Americans are disproportionately uninsured. The Health Insurance Marketplaces will provide access to much-needed health insurance coverage to the more than 3 million LGBT parents and their 6 million children. Under the ACA, health plans may not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The ACA also prohibits denial of coverage for preexisting conditions – including HIV status, pregnancy and fertility issues, as well as accessing trans-related healthcare – and eliminates lifetime limits on most coverage.
Under the ACA, young adults may remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26, which is a very welcome privilege, as young adults are facing a scarcity of entry-level employment. And because of the ACA, several states have chosen to expand their Medicaid programs, providing coverage to approximately 386,500 formerly uninsured LGBT Americans and their families living in poverty. And older Americans, including those who are LGBT, now benefit from additional prescription discounts under Medicaid. Information on whether a state has or has not participated in Medicaid expansion can be found through that state’s marketplace.
Coverage for same-sex partners or families with LGBT parents is available and in many states LGBT families will be eligible to enroll in family plans. In states without this option, these families will be eligible for tax credits to cover the costs of purchasing more than one plan.
For detailed information about available plans or to enroll, go to www.healthcare.gov and select your state of residence. If you need help to navigate the Marketplace, there will be “Navigators” specially trained to help, as well as a 24/7 customer call center (1-800-318-2596) where you can get the answers you need.
For more information on how the Affordable Care Act and the insurance marketplaces benefit LGBT families, see Family Equality Council’s resource guide “The Affordable Care Act and LGBT Families: Everything You Need to Know.” You can also access additional LGBT-specific guidance and plan information at www.out2enroll.org, beginning October 11, 2013.