Health Care Marketplace Enrollment Starts Oct. 1st
Last Thursday, NCTE and dozens of LGBT groups from around the country attended a White House briefing on the new health insurance marketplaces, which will be open for enrollment starting Tues. October 1st. Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, gave the opening remarks and was followed by Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. Both expressed their excitement about the upcoming enrollment period and explained the importance of access to quality health care for LGBT people. Currently, transgender people are less likely to have health insurance than non-transgender people, and 48% of transgender people have avoided going to the doctor when they were sick because they could not afford it.
Several panelists described how the federal government and community organizations can take steps to ensure that LGBT people are aware of their health care rights and health insurance enrollment options. The new health care marketplaces are a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which makes health care more affordable and accessible for LGBT people in many ways. The ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the regulations implementing the law, expands coverage for HIV and AIDS treatment, provides for free preventive care, and states that individuals cannot be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
The ACA also requires that all U.S. citizens have health insurance or pay a penalty. Fortunately, with the new health care marketplaces, many people will be able to secure highly subsidized or even free health coverage if they enroll through healthcare.gov. The marketplace insurance plans will cover all essential health benefits, including doctor visits, preventative care, hospitalization, prescriptions, mental health and substance use disorder services, emergency services, and more.
ACA reforms will eliminate many barriers to coverage access for transgender people and will provide avenues for people to file discrimination complaints. No longer will plans be able to refuse to sell you insurance, charge you more, or deny coverage for routine preventive or emergency care because you are transgender. While it is not yet clear what impact the new reforms will have on insurance exclusions that unfairly target transgender people, NCTE will continue to press to eliminate these practices. NCTE encourages anyone who experiences discrimination in insurance enrollment or access to covered services under their plan to use our resource on Health Care Rights and Transgender People and to file a complaint.
To compare your health insurance options and enroll in a plan, visit healthcare.gov or call the 24/7 Consumer Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 starting Oct. 1, 2013. You can also visit out2enroll.org to get more trans-specific information about the new marketplaces.
NCTE will continue to stay updated about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to ensure that we all have equal access to the quality health care we need.