Healthcare Equality Index

Celebrating its 10th year, the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) is the national LGBTQ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities' policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. The HEI 2017 evaluates a total of 1619 healthcare facilities nationwide.

Employee Benefits and Policies

The Employee Benefits and Policies criteria focuses on health insurance benefits, employee resources groups, LGBTQ-inclusive hiring efforts, transgender inclusive healthcare benefits, employee transition support, and more. In order to receive full credit (20 points) for this criteria with 15 scored questions, a facility must have implemented 7 or more of the best practices. A facility may receive partial credit (10 points) for this criteria if it has implemented 4 to 6 of the best practices. It is critical that LGBTQ employees, like LGBTQ patients, receive equal treatment, particularly through health-related benefits and policies. Scored benefits include:

  • A health insurance policy’s definition of spouse includes same-sex spouses
  • The same documentation is required for enrollment of same and opposite sex spouses
  • Healthcare benefits are provided to domestic partners
  • COBRA-equivalent benefits are provided to domestic partners
  • FMLA-equivalent benefits allow employees to take family and medical leave to care for domestic partners as well as the children of a domestic partner, regardless of biological or adoptive status
  • Bereavement leave is allowed in the event of the death of a domestic partner or their immediate family
  • Organization has an officially recognized LGBTQ employee resource group

Benefits and policies that impact transgender employees are essential to providing fully inclusive LGBTQ-patient centered care. Scored practices are as follows:

  • Provide at least one health plan to all employees that explicitly covers medically necessary health services for transgender people, including gender transition-related treatment
  • Organization has written gender transition guidelines documenting supportive policies and practices on issues pertinent to a workplace gender transition

Additional Support for LGBTQ employees:

  • Organization has an officially recognized LGBTQ employee resource group
  • Organization has a diversity & inclusion office, diversity council or working group focused on employee diversity that specifically includes LGBTQ diversity as part of its mission
  • Anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys allow employees the option to identify as LGBTQ
  • Anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys include question(s) related to LGBTQ concerns
  • Commemorate an “LGBTQ Holiday” at the facility
  • Have explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive hiring efforts
  • Organization has openly LGBTQ people serving in high level visible leadership positions 

For more information and best practice examples, please visit the Employee Benefits & Policies section in the HEI Resource Guide.