The complete guide to buying coverage as an LGBTQ couple
Not that long ago, some health insurance companies were able to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals based on their identity, marriage status, and pre-existing conditions by denying them coverage or charging higher premiums. Recent federal action such as the Affordable Care Act (the ACA or “Obamcare”) and the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has substantially improved access to healthcare for the LGBT community.
Here are a few important pieces of information you should know in order to understand your rights and pick the health plan you and your family deserve:
- Put your new rights to work and get covered: This is exciting news in the health insurance world. New protections under the ACA and the end of DOMA eliminate discrimination against LGBT individuals and their families. The ACA prohibits discrimination based on sexual or gender identity in all health programs. Families with LGBT parents can no longer be charged higher rates for insurance. Transgender individuals now have access to coverage no matter their identity when buying insurance or how their identity changes over time. These new rights save you money and open the door to new coverage options.
- Protect your partner and your family: Even if you live in a state that does not formally recognize same-sex marriages, the federal government will support your partnership and allow you to purchase insurance as long as you choose a federally funded plan. This means you don’t have to buy two different plans for one family. As a couple you also have access to premium tax credits to help pay for insurance. Just make sure to file your taxes jointly in order to receive these discounts.
- Say goodbye to pre-existing condition discrimination: Cancer, diabetes, gender identity preferences, HIV, high blood pressure, pregnancy, and much more used to be known as “pre-existing conditions.” This meant companies could deny you coverage or charge you higher premiums for your condition if you were buying insurance for the first time or switching plans. This was discrimination in disguise and is officially illegal under Obamacare.
- Free preventive benefits will keep you healthy: Regardless of how you identify, the ACA requires that all health plans include a long list of free preventive benefits. Here are some highlights you can enjoy… but only if you buy insurance:
- Free screenings for blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, and some cancers
- Free counseling to help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI) for adults at higher risk
- Free access to immunizations like flu shots and Hepatitis A and B
- Check for subsidies to help you pay: Many middle to low-income adults qualify for subsidies. Stride Health will calculate your subsidy for you whether you are purchasing alone or buying a family plan with your partner. Make sure to enter your income and Stride will do the rest to find you the best discount. Under 30? You might qualify for low-cost catastrophic plans. Look into these if you are young and healthy. If you are low-income, you may qualify for a free or low cost government plan like Medicaid. For those 65 and over, you can enroll in Medicare—a low-cost option for seniors. Stride will direct you to healthcare.gov or Medicaid.gov if these plans are right for you.
Photo cred: Samir Luther