Helping LGBT Elders Navigate Health Benefits • Workshop Nov. 9th
Untangling the complex and sometimes intimidating world of health benefits can be difficult for many LGBT elders. What kind of coverage do you need for your lifestyle? What documents and paperwork will you need to show? Where should you even start? Fortunately, these questions and many more will be answered at an upcoming Lunch & Learn event hosted by The LGBT Health Resource Center and presented by Sara Abrams and Mike Willis of Chase Brexton Health Care’s Case Management department. The Lunch & Learn workshop will take place on Thursday, November 9th from noon to 1:30 pm in the community rooms at Chase Brexton’s Mount Vernon Center (1111 North Charles Street, Baltimore).
We asked Mike and Sara for a few tips about navigating the many options for health benefits.
What are some common concerns you hear from individuals trying to navigate the world of health benefits?
Sara: The biggest concern many uninsured individuals face is simply knowing where to start! Most people don’t know that, since the inception of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states have a health insurance “marketplace” accessible through Healthcare.gov. Obtaining financial assistance in Maryland is only possible through these marketplaces and can help consumers pay for everything from their monthly premiums to some out of pocket costs.
The second big issue is understanding insurance terminology such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Without a grasp on what these terms mean, it’s incredibly difficult to determine which plan is best suited to fit your lifestyle. Many consumers are also discouraged because they think they are required to pay more for their pre-existing conditions. Under the current law, it is illegal to refuse coverage or charge more for these conditions. Lastly, I find that consumers have trouble understanding coverage levels and determining if their current providers accept the plan they choose to enroll in.
What problems do LGBT elders often face in taking advantage of their health benefits?
Sara: I believe the biggest issues come after the enrollment happens. Current LGBT elders have “come of age” at a time when there was little knowledge of their lifestyle, which has led to discrimination in health care and a massive mistrust of medical professionals. LGBT elders are five times less likely to seek medical care. While this issue seems to improve year after year, in speaking with members of this community I find that they face the challenge of finding healthcare providers that are in-tune and sensitive to their needs which affects accessibility.
In addition to the negative health outcomes that may result from not using their health benefits, what financial risks do these individuals face?
Mike: Late enrollment in Medicare insurance and prescription programs will result in higher premiums when the person does need to enroll. The person may have to wait months for an enrollment period to open to get those benefits that may be needed urgently. Also, the only time a person can easily enroll in a Medicare supplementary plan is during the six months after she first becomes eligible for Medicare.
What strategies can LGBT elders use to make navigating their health benefits feel less overwhelming?
Mike: The federal government funds a program nationwide called SHIP – the Senior Health Insurance Plan Program – that helps Medicare enrollees of any age understand all the parts of Medicare and choose the best option for himself or herself.
We also help Chase Brexton patients understand their health coverage options during our Health Insurance Assessment Walk-In Hours; visit Chasebrexton.org/ACA for locations, hours, and more information.
What do you hope that those attending this Lunch & Learn take away from your presentation?
Mike: Medicare can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you get coverage that best suits your needs.
Anyone interested in attending or receiving more information on this upcoming Lunch and Learn workshop is encouraged to RSVP to email@example.com or call 410-837-2050 x1107.
For or more info about LGBT Elder Care, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call 410-837-2050 x1049, or visit Chasebrexton.org/LGBTelders.
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