We're Here, We're Queer, We're Covered!

A bearded hipster young man pulls the drawstrings on his green hoodie, partially concealing the funny face he is making, comp
A bearded hipster young man pulls the drawstrings on his green hoodie, partially concealing the funny face he is making, complete with a cheesy grin. Square crop.

The first thing doctors always asks me after I tell them I'm gay: "When was the last time you had any blood work done?"

I'm not sure if this is standard protocol, ignorance or just hyper-sensitivity on my part, but I always expect it; it always happens, and I'm always a little peeved by it. But I'm one of the lucky ones. At least I get to see a doctor.

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health care was out of reach for tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) young adults. Despite what many Americans see on TV, young LGBTQ adults often face higher rates of poverty than their heterosexual counterparts. It's not all Will and Grace for many of us, who face the hard decision of choosing between housing and food -- or our health.

December 15 marks the deadline to get health coverage that starts on January 1 in the federal and state marketplaces, and I urge everyone lacking insurance to get covered.

I moved back home to San Francisco in 2011 and -- like lots of Millennials after the Great Recession -- I had a hard time finding a job. Working at a restaurant and paying my ridiculous San Francisco-priced rent, I couldn't afford health care after I turned 26 and aged off of my mom's insurance policy.

It wasn't until the first Open Enrollment period in October 2013, when Americans could go online and shop for health care plans, that I could finally afford health care for myself. Eighty-five percent of Americans who selected health plans received discounts on coverage. The majority of young adults were eligible to pay less than $100 per month, or less than the cost of a phone bill.

This year, young LGBTQ adults who still lack health insurance have another chance to sign up and reap the benefits of coverage. Some of those benefits include free HIV screenings, depression screenings, well-woman visits and preventive services such as pap tests and mammograms.

Health care providers cannot discriminate against patients based on sexual orientation and gender identity, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which is a huge victory for the LGBTQ community.

If you haven't already, start shopping at Healthcare.gov or your state health insurance marketplace. And then be sure to see a doctor when you need it, even it means answering questions that seem redundant. Our generation ends up in the emergency room more than any other age group except the elderly, and we can't afford to risk our health -- or our finances.

Want more information how the ACA helps the LGBTQ community? Visit YoungInvincibles.org/hcadvocates!