New York Insurance Exchange Will Address LGBT Health Disparities

Kellan Baker

A new campaign announced in New York Thursday marks another significant step toward eliminating LGBT health care access disparities. The effort, led by Health Care for All New York’s (HCFANY) LGBT Task Force, is the first of its kind to focus on informing LGBT New Yorkers about coverage that will soon be available through the New York State Health Benefit Exchange.

More than one million New Yorkers are expected to gain coverage through the exchange, which was created under the Affordable Care Act. This is especially significant given that an estimated 25 percent of LGBT people in the state have no health insurance. “For LGBT New Yorkers, those benefits cannot come soon enough,” said David Sandman, senior vice president of the New York State Health Foundation, which hosted Thursday’s briefing for LGBT advocates and media. “Numerous studies have found that LGBT people are uninsured and experience health disparities at disproportionately high rates.”

Health care reform is an LGBT equality issue. Kellan Baker of CAP’s LGBT Health Exchanges Project observed: “The health reform effort in New York and nationwide offers an unprecedented opportunity for LGBT advocates, consumer health advocates, and policymakers to work together to address LGBT health disparities and to make sure LGBT people and their families can get the health care they need.”

In New York, and across the country, LGBT organizations and consumer health advocates have teamed up to ensure full engagement and inclusion of LGBT communities in the implementation of the health care reform law, also called Obamacare. The new outreach initiative in New York demonstrates the dedication of community leaders to ensuring that health reform works for everyone who needs it, including LGBT people and their families. The desired outcome is simple, according to Mark Hannay, director of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign: “Joining forces with our allies in the LGBT Task Force, our goal is to get as many uninsured LGBT New Yorkers as possible into good, affordable coverage by 2014.”

Andrew Cray is a policy analyst for LGBT Progress at the Center for American Progress.