Among my friends in my local community are a number of wonderful lesbian musicians! In fact, there are times when we feel almost like we have landed in the middle of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival .. at least for a couple of hours! But in the midst of all the joy and delight that these women musicians bring to our community, there is a very serious issue that surfaces with all-too-much frequency .. the issue of medical challenges and access to medical care. Many are self-employed and have devoted their lives to giving so much of themselves to others through their music. So when medical crises occur, most depend on the generosity of our (not very wealthy) communities to raise funds so that they can receive the treatments they need.
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became available last fall, a number of the women I know were among the thousands who finally gained access to medical coverage. My friend Suzanne is a good example. Suzanne is an amazing musician who has been physically fit and active all of her life, but in recent years has experienced major challenges with her hips. Her preferred approaches to addressing the challenges have been, and remain outside the realm of allopathic medicine, but it has become increasingly clear that she would benefit from some of the diagnostic and treatment options that could be available within the mainstream of U.S. medicine. Once she was able to access care through the Affordable Care Act, the diagnostic information she obtained revealed the nature of the problems with her hips and she then was able to weigh pros and cons of various treatment options. She has focused on non-invasive, wholistic modalities with very impressive results – she can now walk without excruciating pain and with less dependence on her walking canes. Most important, the interventions that she is pursuing will in all likelihood prevent more serious health problems in the future – problems that could lead to devastating expense and suffering.
Suzanne was able to get covered by the ACA during the open enrollment period, but what many people do not know enough about is how to enroll even now due to “special circumstances.” There is a long list of the circumstances under which you can qualify anytime .. many of which are particularly important for LGBTQ individuals and families. The web site “Out@Enroll.org” has provided an LGBTQ-centric resource to help people in our communities find their way to what is possible. Their “Q&A topics” is a wonderful resource, and they have a very good summary of the special circumstances under which you can still enroll if you missed the March 31 deadline for enrollment.
One that I think is particularly important for our LGBTQ communities is the provision of “misinformation.” If, as might be the case for many in our communities, you received “bad information,” then you may qualify to get covered now. Since there is so much confusion about the status of LGBTQ individuals and families, and our status can vary drastically from state to state, it is highly likely that many of us got bad information. If you, or someone you know, might qualify for this “special circumstance,” now is the time to aggressively pursue the issue. Go to Out2Enroll.org and follow their state-specific path to the next steps for you! And if you have coverage, or are a provider, get the facts, and help others in our community who need this important coverage.