What are the LGBT Health Care Disparities?
The LGBT community, while making leaps and bounds in social arenas, has a long way to go in health care. There are a number of disparities for this community in the area of health care, with some of the reasons simply being the slow change in health care away from old practices to new acceptance.
LGBT Community as a Mental Disease
Unfortunately, health care as a whole has a bias against the community. This isn’t to say that an individual health care provider will be prejudice, but the fact that transgender behavior is listed as a mental illness highlights the bias. Gay and lesbian behavior was classified as a mental illness as late as 1973 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. In the past, electrotherapy and castration were normal treatments for these “diseases”, and while such practice has fallen out of favor, some health care professionals still harbor a bias toward this community.
In fact, in a survey conducted in California, and reported on the lgbthealtheducation.org website, found that one fifth of doctors in 1990 expressed homophobic viewpoints. In 2002, 6% of the nation’s doctors remained uncomfortable giving health care to a homosexual person. Revealing gender identity and sexual orientation is important in health care, however, because of these numbers, many patients are reluctant to reveal this information to anyone in health care.
While it is true that there no longer remains any LGBT-specific diseases in America, clinicians must have a person’s sexual orientation information because some health differences do affect this community. The Institute of Medicine Report and the Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 initiative have unearthed these disparities, and call for the medical community to address them. Disparities come from legal and structural factors, a big lack of culturally competent health care, and social discrimination.
Again, these disparities have root in health insurance. Since the Federal government has legalized gay marriage nationally, this will change over time, but the biggest reason this community goes without is due to limited access to health care. Gay men, especially, were once penalized in the insurance arena, so many simply went without. Additionally, a homosexual or transgender’s level of comfort also kept him or her away from the doctor. As stated above, the general attitude in some offices leaves the LGBT community feeling uneasy, so some just never return to any practitioner.
Difference in Diseases
While it’s true that the straight community is as likely to have the same issues as LGBT, there are some diseases which are more commonly found in the LGBT community. Unfortunately, HIV is still a disease showing higher incidences in LGBT, with the transgender community showing the highest rates. Obesity tends to be higher for lesbians, while eating disorders and body image disorders are being noticed among gay men.
What Does This Mean for the LGBT Community?
This means that you have a right to health care and you need to understand that right. While it is embarrassing and devastating to feel that attitude come from a doctor’s office when you reveal your sexuality, you must move on and realize that you have a right to health care. You have a right to change your provider at any time in your life. If you feel uncomfortable, shake it off and move on. You do not have to return to an office that makes you feel bad for who you are. Remember, it is your right to receive the best care, but it is your responsibility to make sure that care is comfortable to you.
If you’d like to talk any more about the disparities of the LGBT community in health care, call Vancouver Home Health Care Agency today.
At Vancouver Home Health Care Agency, Caring and Compassion is our business.