While lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals have made great progress in winning and securing equal rights, we still have a long way to go before fully closing the disparity gap in LBTQ health care. Unfortunately, studies indicate members in the LBTQ community commonly experience worse health outcomes than our heterosexual counterparts.
Why the Gap?
Reduced access to employer-provided health insurance, stress from harassment and discrimination, and lack of cultural competency in the health care system may result in higher risks for cancer, mental illness and other diseases and may contribute to LBTQ people being somewhat more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, use drugs and engage in other unhealthy behaviors compared to the population at large.
Compounding these problems: the health care status and needs of our LBTQ population remain largely understudied. As a result, little research-based information exists to direct the health care providers that serve us.
The Way Forward
To close this gap, we encourage policymakers to seek ways to:
- Increase LBTQ access to health care
- Provide more culturally appropriate care
- Conduct more health research on LBTQ issues and populations