Study needed on gay and lesbian health disparities

August 31, 2012

Missouri study indicates LGBT discrimination and poorer health outcomes

While parents and administrators continue to focus on education as the new school year begins, California has proposed a measure to ban any type of treatment for a minor meant to reverse lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) tendencies. It would be the first state to create such a policy if the bill is signed into law.

On Thursday, the Missouri Foundation for Health separately released a study indicating that LGBT populations experience discrimination in healthcare settings. The foundation projects that the intersection of multiple identities, such race, sexual orientation, culture or religion, create subpopulations that are likely to experience health disparities and worse outcomes.

Nearly one-fourth of transgender adults report being refused care in a physician’s office, and 13% report being refused care in an emergency room. Additionally, the foundation noted the high rate of physical assaults and poorer mental-health status among sexual minorities.

Policy recommendations include training for medical staff on cultural competency and inclusive non-discrimination policies. The foundation reports that discrimination in healthcare settings discourages patients from seeking needed care and causes poorer health outcomes. A national study is needed, according to the authors.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prohibit sex discrimination in health insurance, which applies to transgender people. They cannot be denied insurance because their gender does not fit the common definitions of feminine or masculine identity.