Join Allyship on January 21st as we partner with Washington Community Action Network for our Queer Economic Justice Advocacy Day!

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Join Allyship on January 21st as we partner with Washington Community Action Network for our Queer Economic Justice Advocacy Day!

Category : Blog , Programs

Health Care

  • LGBTQ individuals are less likely to access health care or have health insurance[i]
  • LGBTQ are less likely to get routine care, including screenings for breast and cervical cancers[ii]
  • The health care system is not set up to recognize our diverse family structures and therefore LGBTQ individuals and members of our families are less likely to be covered by health insurance[iii]

Further research is needed to detail the specifics of our community’s health needs and outcomes. Allyship supports the collection of sexual and gender identity demographic information in an effort to improve epidemiological studies on our health. Additionally, Allyship supports and is collaborating around the below legislation as instrumental to Washington’s LGBTQ community’s health:

Support the Licensed Dental Practitioner Bill

Allyship, in coalition with the Washington Dental Access Campaign led by the Children’s Alliance and Washington Community Action Network, is advocating for new mid-level dental providers to support and advance the overall health of Washington’s LGBTQ community.  According to Allyship’s 2012 Community Survey about 40% of LGBTQ individuals lack dental care. High costs make routine and preventive oral health care out of reach for many, and the cost of dental surgery can be impossible. The main reason that individuals have delayed or not received dental care is cost[iv], and untreated oral disease can have serious impacts on overall long-term health.  For these reasons, Allyship joins in advocating for low -income LGBTQ individuals in Washington who need and deserve dental care.

New mid-level dental providers strengthen the capacity of the entire dental care team to extend routine and preventive care to people who can’t get the care they need.  Already employed in Minnesota and Alaska, these evidence-based providers are working with dentists to increase access while maintaining high-quality care. Just as there are several low-income, sliding scale medical clinics in the area, we ask that the legislature take the next step and change outdated laws to allow local dentists to use mid-level dental providers to help meet the needs of their communities. Additionally, we recognize that passing this bill further supports the LGBT community and all citizens by creating well paying jobs within the state. [i]

[i] “Allyship Communication.” Message from Tera Bianchi and Children’s Alliance. 1 Nov. 2012. E-mail.

[i][i] Krehely, Jeff. “How to Close the LGBT Health Disparities Gap.” Center for American Progress. N.p., 21 Dec. 2009. Web. 01 Nov. 2012. <>.

[ii] United States. The American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts for Lesbians and Bisexual Women. The American Cancer Society, 23 Nov. 2009. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. <>.

[iii] Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, Center for American Progress, and National Coalition for LGBT Health. “Obstacles and Opportunities: Ensuring Health and Wellness for LGBT Families.” Family Equality, Mar. 2012. Web. 2 Nov. 2012. <>.

[iv] Palmer, Craig. “Oral Health Status Measured in National Survey.” Oral Health Status Measured in National Survey. American Dental Association, 20 July 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. <>.

We heard from many LGBTQ individuals struggling with the lack of dental and health care.  Read their stories »

Advocate for the Expansion of Medicaid

 Allyship calls for expansion of current Medicaid as a part of the Affordable Health Care Act. Under this expansion, Medicaid will be expanded to cover individuals up to 138% of poverty level, which equates to a $14,856 income for an individual and opens Medicaid up to childless adults at greater rates.  Once the expansion goes through it is estimated that after several years Washington State is expected to enroll more then half a million adults who are not currently served through current regulation. Many within the LGBTQ community who currently are living in poverty will now be eligible to receive needed support and access to both physical and mental health. The LGBTQ community statistically experiences worse health due to lack of health insurance, higher stress loads and lack of cultural competency within health care professions.[i] Those who hold both LGBTQ and racial or ethnic minority identities experience even greater injustice in connection to lack of access to health care. Using our own data gathered in King County we know that currently 21% of LGBT folks lack health care, and this is not taking into account those who live in more rural parts of our state. For these reasons, Allyship stands behind expansion as key to supporting the LGBTQ community.

[i] Krehely, Jeff. “How to Close the LGBT Health Disparities Gap.” Center for American Progress. N.p., 21 Dec. 2009. Web. 01 Nov. 2012.

Help Implement the Basic Health Option (BHO)

Allyhip recognizes that currently over 1 million of Washington citizens are uninsured[i], including those who belong to the LGBTQ community. Young adults, those who are low income and people of color are the most likely to be uninsured within our state.[ii]  Allyship supports the Affordable Care Act, which would provide insurance to an estimated 800,000 of King County uninsured[iii]. Within the Basic Health Option, Allyship is advocating for chemical dependency and mental health treatment options to be included in the Basic Health Option in recognizing that these services are greatly needed to address overall health and greater access needed within the LGBTQ community.  To demonstrate this need, Allyship conducted a Community Survey that found approximately 30% of LGBTQ participants lacked access to health care and a little over 30% of LGBTQ individuals needed access to mental health services. Allyship’s Community Survey will aid Allyship to be effective advocates for the LGBTQ community in discussions around the Health Care Exchange in the interim period before the act goes public 2014. Allyship will continue to work with the Caring Across Communities Coalition to expand access to health care for the most vulnerable in our communities.

[i] Kreidler, Mike. “Washington Hits Grim Milestone: 1 Million Residents with No Health Insurance.” Uninsured in Washington State. Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, 13 Dec. 2011. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. <>.

[ii] Kreidler, Mike. “Washington Hits Grim Milestone: 1 Million Residents with No Health Insurance.” Uninsured in Washington State. Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, 13 Dec. 2011. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. <>.

[iii] Mikkelsen, Drew, and Amy Moreno. “Half Million More in Wash. to Qualify for Medicaid Coverage.” King 5 News, 28 June 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. <>.

Why should the LGBTQ community and straight allies care about health care?

Health care is a growing concern for Americans.  In 2010 a study by the Center for Disease Control found that 26% of Americans lacked health insurance.  About three fourths of individuals who filed for personal bankruptcies caused by medical expenses had health insurance.  In Washington State about 13.9% to 21.2% of residents lack health insurance. (1)

The current economy is not creating living wage jobs, which means rising rates of unemployment and the uninsured.

A growing number of national studies have been conducted on the health care status of LGBT communities, indicating alarming LGBT health care disparities.  According to the studies, the top health care disparities for lesbian and bisexual women are weight management, depression, anxiety, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, substance and tobacco abuse and reproductive health care.  Bisexual women are especially vulnerable to depression, anxiety and isolation at higher levels than lesbians and heterosexual women and have less access to health care and resources.  Gay and bisexual men experience higher levels of chronic conditions, high blood-pressure, physical disabilities, diabetes, STDs, depression, anxiety and substance and tobacco abuse than their heterosexual counterparts.  For transgendered individuals, the lack of access to trans-specific health care needs is a serious overall concern. (2)

The LGBT community has unique barriers to health care insurance.  The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in their study, Injustice at Every turn, reports only 40% of transgendered individuals receive health care from their employers compared to 62% of the general population. Fear of employer retaliation based on gender identity prevents many transgendered individuals from using employer provided health insurance, resulting in those individuals seeking out non-employer, out-of-pocket insurance or no insurance at all. (3)  In addition, transgender people on Medicare and Medicaid don’t have access to necessary transition-related health care and with employer-based health care many insurance plans discriminate and exclude transgender-related care. (National Center for Transgender Equality)

According to the article ‘Gays, Lesbians suffer health disparities’ LGB individuals engage in less preventative care than their heterosexual counterparts.  Reasons for avoiding health care are homophobia from health care workers, fear of judgment and ignorant questions, receiving blank stares from health care providers, and a lack of understanding of LGB health care issues. (4)  In addition, spousal health care insurance is not accessible to LGB individuals and therefore prevents LGB individuals from having the same access to health care insurance as their heterosexual counterparts.  If an employer offers domestic partner health insurance that insurance is taxed as income which presents an added affordability barrier for couples. (5)


1 ‘Insured, but Bankrupted by Health Crises’, June 30, 2009, by Reed Abelson, New York Times

2 ‘Disparities in Health-related quality of life: a comparison of lesbian and bisexual women’, November 2010, by KI Federiksen-Goldsen, ‘Why Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, and Transgender Public Health?, 2001, by Ilan H. Meyer, PhD, American Journal of Public Health and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research from the California Health Interview Survey, March 2011

3 ‘Injustice at Every Turn’, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, February 3, 2011

4 ‘Gays, Lesbians suffer health disparities’, May 26, 2011, by Sue LaVaccare,

5 ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health’, 2010,

Allyship’s history in the health care movement:

Allyship has been working in the health care movement for the last three years. We’ve worked with the coalition Health Care for America Now in support of health care reform on the national level where we helped organized marches and mobilized a lesbian contingent of moms for the May 30th, 2009 ‘Mothers Lead the Way’ march. We built relationships with community and labor groups around health care reform and held health care educationals as part of our ‘Queerly Classed’ discussion series. And lastly, Allyship organized a street theater performance on Capitol Hill that emphasized the importance of health care reform and why it matters to the LGBTQ community.

Allyship also developed relationships with the Single-Payer movement.

Single-payer is a term used to describe a type of financing system. It refers to one entity acting as administrator, or “payer.” In the case of healthcare, a single-payer system would be setup such that one entity—a government run organization—would collect all healthcare fees, and pay out all healthcare costs.

In the current US system, there are literally tens of thousands of different healthcare organizations—HMOs, billing agencies, etc. By having so many different payers of healthcare fees, there is an enormous amount of administrative waste generated in the system. (Just imagine how complex billing must be in a doctor’s office, when each insurance company requires a different form to be completed, has a different billing system, different billing contacts and phone numbers—it’s very confusing.)

In a single-payer system, all hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers would bill one entity for their services. This alone reduces administrative waste greatly, and saves money, which can be used to provide care and insurance to those who currently don’t have it.    – by Healthcare – NOW for more information click here 

In building relationships with the Single-Payer movement we had a Single-Payer advocate present at our ‘Queerly Classed’ discussion series in 2010.


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