CMS Combating Health Disparities With LGBTQ+ Week of Action
June is Pride Month and CMS is recognizing the unique health needs of the LGBTQ+ community and working to combat the health disparities they face
By: Cathryn Hilliard
June 9, 2021 – LGBTQ+ persons have their own unique health needs, and CMS is recognizing the health disparities that the community faces. June is Pride Month and CMS is promoting a Week of Action for LGBTQ+ individuals seeking affordable health insurance.
Together with outside partners, CMS is aiming to close the health disparities gap by helping the LGBTQ+ community take advantage of lower premiums and financial assistance.
LGBTQ+ Health Disparities
CMS recognizes that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals have unique health needs and that often these health needs are not adequately met. In fact, it is estimated that substantial health disparities exist for 2.6 million LGBTQ+ youth. 40% of young people facing homelessness are also LGBTQ+.
In addition, members of the LGBTQ+ community are at increased risk for several health threats. One example of this is HIV. Another example is that transgender individuals are less likely to have health insurance than other individuals.
Health disparities in this LGBTQ+ community are compounded even more by social determinants of health. These social determinants are rooted in oppressive and discriminatory practices. However, through the Week of Action, CMS is looking to combat this.
This week, they are promoting the Special Enrollment Period to those in the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ individuals and their families can visit HealthCare.gov to obtain financial assistance and lower premiums for health insurance.
Special Enrollment Period
Typically, you need to have a qualifying life event to enroll in a Marketplace plan. Examples of this are the birth of a child, a marriage, or a move. However, there is a new Special Enrollment Period that allows individuals to sign up for healthcare through August 15, 2021, due to COVID-19.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has extended a Special Enrollment Period, allowing Americans to obtain affordable health insurance through HealthCare.gov. The ARP increases tax credits for consumers that will reduce premiums for health insurance through the Federal Marketplace.
The premium tax credits were adjusted to allow more consumers to qualify for advance payments. Many using the Marketplace can see premiums lowered by $50 per person of $85 per policy each month. In addition, 60% of eligible uninsured adults can access a zero-premium plan.
“We’re delivering lower health care costs to more Americans because everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care,” said Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Today help is here and millions of Americans can start saving money on their health insurance premiums thanks to the American Rescue Plan.”
CMS Outreach Initiative
To make consumers aware of the Special Enrollment Period and combat health disparities, CMS launched an education campaign. The goal is to raise awareness about the new savings and premium tax credits.
Through their Weeks of Action campaign, CMS is engaging a targeted population to encourage them to visit HealthCare.gov during the Special Enrollment Period. The Weeks of Action campaign will continue until August 15, 2021, when the SEP ends.
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