by German Lopez
Posted In: News
, Health care
at 11:46 AM | Permalink
Out 2 Enroll considers Ohio a critical enrollment area
A national organization is looking at Ohio’s LGBT
community as a potential target for a nationwide campaign that will
raise awareness about the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”)
enacted changes and benefits.
Kellan Baker, founder of Out 2 Enroll and associate
director of LGBT Health Policy at the Center for American Progress,
explains the campaign is crucial for Ohio and other parts of the country
because gay, lesbian, bisexual and particularly transgendered groups
are often uninsured at greater levels than the rest of the population —
both because of poorly targeted outreach efforts and outright
“We’re hoping to provide the tools that these systems need
to see where LGBT people are and include them in these efforts so LGBT
community members can get the benefits that they need,” Baker says.
To accomplish that, Baker’s team is using data collected
through focus groups and other research to establish messages that will
resonate with LGBT communities and land in hotspots in which the groups
Some of the messaging is as simple as putting pictures of
gay couples on brochures. Other times, it will involve reaching deep
into specific LGBT circles and social media — perhaps even Grindr, the
popular phone application that gay men use to arrange dates and other
In its messaging, Out 2 Enroll will tout the potential
benefits of Obamacare: tax subsidies, online marketplaces that will
allow participants to compare insurance plans and new regulations that
protect LGBT groups from discrimination in the health care and insurance
Baker says the efforts could be particularly critical for
transgendered individuals. According to focus groups conducted by
PerryUndem Research & Communication, the transgendered population
has generally felt misunderstood and discriminated against when trying
to obtain health insurance. Complaints about intrusive, inappropriate
questions and being misgendered were fairly common.
In some cases, the discrimination wasn’t subtle. Until new
regulations were enacted through Obamacare, insurance companies were
able to withhold some medical services and refuse coverage
altogether by treating gender identity issues as a pre-existing
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals have faced their own
discrimination as well: The focus groups found one in three respondents
in a same-sex relationship tried to get partner coverage through an
employer plan; of those, 50 percent had trouble getting partner coverage and 72 percent felt discriminated against during the process.
Baker explains that helping with many of these cases could
be as simple as raising awareness about Obamacare’s LGBT benefits.
Although 64 percent of respondents in the focus groups knew about Obamacare’s mandate to
obtain health insurance, 71 percent had not heard about new coverage
options made available through the federal law.
To reverse the statistical trend and ensure Obamacare’s
success, Baker says Out 2 Enroll and other groups partnering with Enroll
America will have to target critical enrollment areas with large
uninsured populations, including Ohio.
A recent analysis from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati put Ohio’s population of uninsured working-age Ohioans at 1.25 million.
The outreach campaign will mostly play out in the next six
months, as online marketplaces open for enrollment on Oct. 1 and
remain open until April.