Today, the LGBTQIA+ community accounts for roughly 7.1% of the U.S. population, which is around 23.3 million individuals (1). Yet this group faces many challenges when it comes to healthcare. Anti-LGBTQIA+ attitudes have a long history of impacting this community’s access to healthcare in the U.S. Because of this and the groups minority status, there is limited clinical research for LGBTQIA+ related issues and inadequate health benefits (2). Likewise, poor quality of care due to stigma, lack of healthcare providers’ awareness and insensitivity to the unique needs of this community contribute to the systemic issues they face (4). With a flawed system and many barriers to care, basic healthcare needs are not being met for millions of individuals.
Unfortunately, this community suffers more than just systemic accessibility problems. Those who identify as LGBTQIA+ are at increased risk for a host of physical and mental health issues. Physically, individuals are more likely to endure HIV/AIDS, obesity, breast cancer, HPV infection and more (2). Mentally, this community shows increased rates of suicide and suicidal thoughts, mood disorders, anxiety, eating disorders and substance use (2). To couple these issues with the systemic healthcare issues already in place creates an environment that puts LGBTQIA+ people at greater health risks than others.
While it is true that LGBTQIA+ healthcare issues have been improving in recent years, there is still growth to be made. Here are some ways healthcare can change to accommodate more individuals:
Create an inclusive environment. Using inclusive language and meeting patients where they are can be important ways to create open dialogue between doctor and patient. Open dialogue promotes better outcomes in diagnosing and treating any problem.
Educate providers. From intake personnel to doctors, every interaction contributes to a patient’s healthcare experience. Educating these providers on biases, history and specific health issues regarding LGBTQIA+ people builds a better atmosphere (5).
Culturally competent care.Considering the impact of social determinants of health within this minority group allows for treatment that addresses a person’s entire wellbeing and lifestyle.
At First Stop Health, we believe that access to doctors should be fast and easily accessible to all. Virtual primary care allows patients to receive care from a comfortable space of their choosing, is more cost effective than in-person care and provides referrals to hand-selected, in-network healthcare partners.