This past week marked the 11th Annual LGBT Health Awareness Week, a nationwide event that promotes the unique health and wellness needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This week, we highlight the progress our Commonwealth and the country has made to ensure that LGBT Americans have the same rights and protections as other Americans, particularly in access to quality, confidential health care.
Access to affordable care has historically been difficult for the LGBT community. LGBT-identified individuals, particularly transgender Americans, frequently have more complex healthcare needs. On average, LGBT-identified Americans suffer from higher rates of cancer, obesity, HIV/AIDS and mental illness than their heterosexual or cis-gender counterparts. For those with chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, caps on annual and lifetime health insurances coverage could lead to astronomical bills and debt for many in the community.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, LGBT health equity has taken a few leaps forward. While we in Massachusetts have had this equality for over a decade, under the Affordable Care Act, legally married couples in all states are treated equally when it comes to coverage or financial assistance. This Lifetime and annual dollar caps are no longer permissible, so you can not be denied the use of the insurance you pay for, ever. In addition, lifesaving screenings and preventative doctor visits are now covered under all new compliant plans with little or no co-pay, meaning illness can be caught and treated soon. Most importantly: no one can be denied coverage based on their health history, and with new subsidized and affordable options available with the ACA, this means everyone can have access the health coverage they need.
LGBT-identified individuals are also at an increased risk for mental health issues like depression, suicide, anxiety, and eating disorders, compared to their heterosexual or cis-gender counterparts. Thanks to the ACA, there is more integration of behavioral health with psychical health care, helping physicians catch mental health disorders sooner, and making mental health treatment more accessible and affordable for everyone.
Through the work of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth and the newly formed Commission on Elder LGBT Support, Massachusetts continues to pave the way in forward thinking policy that reduces health disparities for LGBT-identified people in the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts Healthcare Decisions Month posted on Apr 19
In recognition of the 10th anniversary of National Healthcare Decisions Day, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services is proud to support Massachusetts Healthcare Decisions Month (HDM). Led by the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care*, HDM is a month-long public awareness campaign promoting …Continue Reading Massachusetts Healthcare Decisions Month
A Focus on Disparities for National Public Health Week – Infant Mortality posted on Apr 7
By almost every measure, Massachusetts is one of the healthiest states in the nation. In fact, the United Health Foundation’s Health Rankings Report recently ranked Massachusetts the second healthiest state, behind only Hawaii. Among the findings, we ranked #1 in Senior Health and #1 in Women …Continue Reading A Focus on Disparities for National Public Health Week – Infant Mortality
MassHealth moving forward in transitioning toward Accountable Care Organizations and investing in Behavioral Health and Supports for individuals with disabilities under innovative 5-year waiver posted on Mar 29
Massachusetts Secretary for Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders announced the next steps in the MassHealth program’s transition from the current fee-for-service system towards coordinated and integrated care to improve members’ health and contain costs under its innovative five-year 1115 waiver. The MassHealth program is …Continue Reading MassHealth moving forward in transitioning toward Accountable Care Organizations and investing in Behavioral Health and Supports for individuals with disabilities under innovative 5-year waiver