Company focuses on helping LGBTQ people navigate Medicare while avoiding discrimination
MATHEW DOMINGUEZ | Content Marketing Specialist
Medicare is the nation’s health insurance program offered to senior Americans, 65 years or older, typically retired workers who are receiving Social Security, according to lgbtagingcenter.com. For many American seniors, there can be some confusion when it comes to signing up for Medicare. But the LGBTQ community can face more and different obstacles than their straight peers.
Steven Graves, owner of Medicare4USA.com, recently spoke about some of these concerns. “While we have made progress against discrimination, many in our community are still concerned about talking openly about medical issues, concerns and lifestyle,” he said.
One of the biggest obstacles comes as no shock to some and that’s discrimination.
All people should be able to see their doctor without worrying about being mistreated or denied service. But LGBTQ people face disturbingly high rates of health care discrimination, ranging from harassment and humiliation by medical providers to being turned away by hospitals, pharmacists and doctors. AmericanProgress.org states that “discrimination in health care settings endangers LGBTQ people’s lives through delays or denials of medically necessary care.”
Among lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer respondents to a Center for American Progress survey done this year, 8 percent said that a doctor or other health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Another 6 percent said that a doctor or other healthcare provider refused to give them health care related to their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
According to the same survey, 29 percent of transgender people who had visited a doctor or health care provider’s office in the past year said that a doctor or other health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity. And another 12 percent said a doctor or other health care provider refused to give them health care related to gender transition.
It’s also important for same-sex couples to know about Medicare coverage for spouses. Married same-sex couples can get coverage under the same Medicare and Medicaid rules as married heterosexual couples in all states. But while where they live or where they were married makes no difference, how long they have been married can affect their right to benefits.
Given that Medicare was established to care for retired workers, it is required that individuals have participated in the workforce to be eligible, according to LGBTAGinCenter.org. This can pose a challenge for members of the LGBTQ community who have been marginalized and excluded from the traditional work force. It can be especially problematic for transgender individuals whose work history documentation may not match their post-transition identity and documentation.
The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund states that “securing gender-appropriate identity documents may be a daunting task involving interactions with courts.”
Additionally, when employment is secured, it may be fragile due to on-the-job harassment based on gender identity and expression. This results in many transgender people facing chronic underemployment, unemployment and poverty.
When it comes to the LGBTQ community, it’s important to know the resources that are out there to help. Medicare4USA is an independent brokerage firm that provides Medicare supplements, advantage plans, drug and dental insurances to people who are 65 and older. More importantly, the agency is gay-owned and -operated, allowing customers to openly discuss any medical concerns and needs.
“With a positive reputation, members of the LGBTQ community can rely on us to help them understand and select the right Medicare policy,” said Graves of his company.
With more than 28 years of insurance experience in Texas, Graves ensures that the highly-trained agents at Medicare4USA are dedicated to helping the LGBTQ community.
They also understand how Medicare works and the steps necessary when applying for Parts A and B and when selecting a Medicare supplement or advantage plan.
As the only Medicare insurance agency that is totally focused on the LGBTQ community, Medicare4USA represents many Medicare insurance companies, not just one.
“We take the time to understand your specific Medicare needs and concerns, research all the companies that we represent and make a recommendation,” Graves explained. “Our focus is to help you secure a policy that will best meet your specific medical benefit needs.”
He also emphasizes that anyone with questions concerning how Medicare works and its coverage — from how to apply for Part A and B or a Medicare Supplement or Advantage plan, when to apply or anything else — can give them a call.
Although there has been much progress when it comes to LGBTQ rights and the fight for equality, there is still much work to be done. Many in the community still face discrimination when it comes to medical care and although that can cause much anxiety and fear, it’s important to know there are resources out there like Medicare4USA that will take the time to answer any questions and concerns.