Wednesday, April 10, 2013
News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians
Health care reform potentially a game-changer for GLBT health
The Center for American Progress recently hosted an event, "A New Era of Inclusion," to discuss how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and those living with HIV or AIDS have been impacted by health care reform. GLBT people face discrimination in employment, housing, education and health care. They also are more likely than the general population to live in poverty and make up an estimated 40 percent of the U.S. homeless youth population.
For these and other reasons, "GLBT people tend to have worse insurance coverage, have less access to health care, and get diagnosed with conditions such as breast cancer, depression and HIV more often," Kellan Baker and Christopher Frost write in a recap of the event.
Health care reform includes some promising changes that might address some of these disparities, including better data collection on social orientation, new nondiscrimination protections and extended coverage for more than 30 million people through the expansion of Medicare.
Importantly for people living with HIV and AIDS, the Affordable Care Act ends annual and lifetime coverage limits, eliminates pre-existing condition exclusions, and closes the "donut hole" in prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. Because people with HIV and AIDS are more likely to be low-income, the expansion of Medicaid also is important for this population.
All of the panelists at the event agreed that it will take a partnership between federal and state governments, consumer health advocates, gay and transgender health advocates, and advocates for people living with HIV to bring the reforms' promise to fruition for GLBT Americans and those living with HIV and AIDS.
AMA resources can help you better understand LGBT health issues.
Gay physician to GLBT patients: Be your own health care advocate
Even though coming out can be difficult, Ray Martins, MD, says there's one more person you need to add to your list: your health care provider. Letting your physician know your sexual orientation and gender orientation helps them provide you with optimal care, he writes in a recent article for the Washington Blade.
For example, if you're a sexually active gay or bisexual man, your doctor will know to offer you vaccinations against Hepatitis A and B. If you're a lesbian or bisexual woman, your doctor will know you're more likely to smoke. "Knowing that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender ensures they can treat all of you," said Dr. Martins.
If your provider reacts negatively, he recommends finding a new provider. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association provides a directory of GLBT-friendly physicians around the country.