The Marketplace is Open: Continuing Our Progress for the LGBT community
By: Rhett Buttle, Director, Private Sector Engagement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
I am proud to serve in the Obama Administration because of the work the President, the Secretary, and this Administration have done, and will continue to do, to create a more fair country for individuals from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Together, with the help of many, we’ve created meaningful change, especially in health care. Thanks to protections provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), your gender and who you love are no longer preexisting conditions. Insurance companies can no longer deny health coverage or charge higher premiums based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Every American should be able to see their loved ones when they are sick. We were able to take steps to guarantee visitation rights for LGBT patients and ensure medical decision-making rights of LGBT patients are upheld at institutions receiving Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. These are just some examples of our commitment, but many more can be found in the recently released annual report detailing the developments we have made this year and goals set for the final year of the Obama Administration to further protect the health and wellbeing of the LGBT community.
Despite our progress, work remains. Making sure the LGBT community has access to quality; affordable health insurance is a critical priority for this Administration. This is why we launched an LGBT Week of Action to raise awareness about enrollment under the ACA. We are proud to continue working in close partnership with local, regional and national groups to help make sure this community is getting the education and resources they need to make the best decision towards managing their health and wellness.
Since the ACA’s provisions have taken effect, an estimated 17.6 million Americans have found health coverage. Nationally, with this increase, we’ve reached the lowest levels of uninsured on record. The improvement we’ve made isn’t just about getting coverage. Thanks to new protections, like preventive services at no extra cost, everyone’s insurance is better, no matter where they buy it. The Department of Health and Human Services made clear that these preventive services are available regardless of an individual’s gender identity, sex assigned at birth, or recorded gender.
Together, we can build on this headway because the Health Insurance Marketplaces are open for business. Open Enrollment runs until the end of January, but if you want coverage starting January 1, 2016 you need to sign up by December 15, 2015. Across the Administration, we’re making sure everyone knows that financial help is available to make coverage more affordable. We’ve worked hard to improve the consumer experience in numerous ways. In addition, we are making sure people have the help they need, whether that is in person, online or by phone. We encourage LGBT Americans to visit www.HealthCare.gov to learn more about their options this enrollment period. This Administration has made historic progress for the LGBT community, and by ensuring a successful open enrollment together, we can do even more.
Rhett Buttle is the Director of Private Sector Engagement & LGBT Liaison in the Secretary’s Office at the Department of Health & Human Services. He is also a member of The White House Business Council.