Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall

Today marks the beginning of the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, which runs from November 1 through December 15. If you don’t have insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid or another source, then you’ll want to sign-up for health coverage through the ACA.

The ACA provides unprecedented federal protections for countless Americans, including LGBTQ people, who faced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity before the law’s implementation. 

Despite the countless efforts by Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Republican leadership in Congress, the ACA still remains the law of the land. 

Here are three things LGBTQ people should know about why it matters to get covered:

1. Under the Affordable Care Act, state marketplaces, health plans and their employees are prohibited from discriminating against LGBTQ people. And insurers can’t charge more if you have a pre-existing condition, such as HIV or cancer.

2. Access to affordable health insurance not only provides access to care, but can help address health disparities that currently exist in the LGBTQ community and provide critical preventative care.

3. The ACA has greatly expanded transition-related health care coverage even to people who are not in ACA marketplace plans. For example, insurers cannot limit or deny coverage for services used for gender transition when those services would normally be covered when treating a non-transition related health condition. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act requires plans to provide all sex-specific preventative services available that are medically appropriate. This means that under the ACA a plan can't limit a preventative service like a pap smear, mammogram or prostate exam, based on an individual's sex assigned at birth, gender identity or their recorded gender. 

Learn more about open enrollment here. Note: six states and Washington, D.C., have extended open enrollment beyond Dec. 15. Check with your state marketplace for details.

Even if you have insurance, talk with your friends and family who don’t and make sure they get the information they need to get covered.

Don’t wait; head to today!

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