This blog post was written by team members of Enroll America and Katie Keith, Steering Committee Member at Out2Enroll.
More often than not, the best way to reach underserved communities — including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities — is to meet individuals where they are.
As we approach LGBT Pride Month in June, Enroll America and Out2Enroll (the national initiative focused on connecting LGBT people to coverage options) are proud to partner in making sure that LGBT Americans have access to quality, affordable health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Doing so is especially important because the LGBT community faces many health disparities, including a higher uninsured rate. Research from the Center for American Progress shows that 1 in 4 low- and middle-income LGBT people — those who qualify for premium tax credits — were still uninsured in 2014.
So how can you maximize outreach to LGBT communities as we approach LGBT Pride Month? Here are a few tips:
1. Find out when your community celebrates Pride events, including Black Pride, Latino Pride, Trans Pride, and other events.
Pride events happen all across the country — in communities as diverse as Lexington, Kentucky; McAllen, Texas; and Tucson, Arizona, among many others. Many communities have general Pride events as well as Black Pride events, Latino Pride events, and Trans Pride events. Each of these celebrations can be an opportunity to spread the word about the benefits of the ACA to LGBT people, allies, and influencers.
Although many Pride events occur in June, some are held as early as April and as late as October so it is important to confirm when your community holds its events. Check in with your local LGBT community center or equality organization — or start your research by checking out this calendar.
2. Sign up to participate in Pride events — and do some networking!
Pride events are an excellent way to meet LGBT people where they are. Actively participate in Pride by securing a booth and distributing enrollment information. Many Pride events offer reduced rates to nonprofits, and Out2Enroll can provide LGBT-specific enrollment materials for you to distribute.
Participating in Pride events helps build trust and visibility and shows the community that you offer affirming enrollment assistance. Pride events are also a natural opportunity to inform attendees about special enrollment periods and upcoming open enrollment periods.
Even if you do not have a booth at Pride, attend the event to meet organizations that serve LGBT people and explore potential partnerships. Pride events often draw diverse partners, including health clinics, small businesses, LGBT-affirming churches, support groups, and many more. There’s no shortage of opportunities to get the word out about your organization and the enrollment services you offer!
3. Use messages that resonate with LGBT people and be prepared to answer LGBT-specific questions and concerns.
Many LGBT people have long faced discrimination in health insurance and health care, and awareness of the benefits of the ACA remains low. At the same time, 80 percent of LGBT consumers want help from assisters who are knowledgeable about LGBT-specific questions and enrollment issues.
In addition to general information about financial help, the penalty, and in-person assistance, here are some key LGBT-specific messages to convey:
- The ACA protects LGBT people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in health insurance and health care. These protections are significant and apply in every state. They also protect LGBT people, whether enrolled in coverage through the marketplace or not.
- The ACA recognizes LGBT families. Married same-sex couples have the same access to financial help and family or spousal coverage as straight couples. So LGBT families can get covered and get their financial help together.
- Being transgender is no longer a pre-existing condition (but many plans still have exclusions that limit access to health care). Transgender people cannot be charged more or denied coverage — including preventive care — based on their gender identity or medical history. However, many plans still have exclusions that limit access to health care related to gender transition.
If you are unfamiliar with this information, participate in Out2Enroll’s free training on LGBT cultural competency and enrollment issues — or brush up on the information using their frequently asked questions on topics like transgender health, discrimination, and same-sex couples.
4. Have fun!
Pride is all about celebrating who you are, who you love, and the diversity of the LGBT community. Get in the spirit, ask people to share a #HealthySelfie (like the ones that Out2Enroll has collected at Prides across the country), spread the word about the ACA, and make some new friends!