For years, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and their families faced difficulties in getting health coverage and access to medical services they needed.
However, thanks to the passing of the Affordable Care Act and a recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, these situations have drastically improved for the LGBT community and their families:
• Companies that offer health care coverage to opposite sex-spouses must now also offer coverage to same-sex spouses.
• Same-sex couples are eligible for the same Marketplace tax credits as married couples of the opposite sex.
• Insurance companies cannot increase premiums due to a pre-existing condition for same-sex couples.
With guaranteed access to health insurance coverage, same-sex couples and their families — as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals — have a variety of health insurance options from which to choose. Here’s how to make the most out of your health insurance plan.
Find a great doctor
If you already have a preferred physician who accepts your health insurance, there’s no need to switch. However, if you feel that your doctor doesn’t fully understand your needs, it may be time to shop around.
Ask friends and family if they have a primary care physician they’d recommend, and then check to see if they accept your health insurance plan. Don’t be shy about asking a potential doctor direct questions about attitude, policies, and practices when it comes to the LGBT community. The goal is to find a doctor with whom you feel completely comfortable, so you can receive the level of care you deserve.
Shop around for the best plan
Even though you may now be able to join your same-sex spouse’s health insurance plan, it still makes sense to explore all of your options before making a final decision. Learn the details about your spouse’s current coverage, including things like premium costs, levels of coverage, copayments, and coinsurance. You can also consult a licensed agent to help you research individual plans on the Marketplace. This will give you the information you need to compare your options to decide which one makes the most sense for you.
Take advantage of wellness programs
Regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation, one thing remains the same: It’s important to keep your mind and body healthy. Explore wellness-focused services and programs offered through your health insurance company. Many insurers offer online and offline classes and other assistance with things like smoking cessation, reducing stress, adopting a healthier diet, and more. Be proactive about your health while making the most of your health care dollar by taking advantage of any wellness programs your health insurance company makes available.
Improve your health without emptying your wallet
With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, LGBT individuals and couples now have greater access to health insurance and health care services than ever before. Make sure you’re making the smartest health care choices by finding a doctor who understands your needs and makes you feel comfortable. Do your research before selecting a plan to make sure you’re getting the best deal, and utilize your plan’s wellness offerings.
Lauren Mandel is the Content Marketing Manager for GoHealth Insurance. GoHealth powers one of the nation’s leading private health insurance exchanges for individuals and families.