How to Use This Guide

Start by thinking about your healthcare needs. Ask yourself questions like: How is your health and the health of individuals you want to find coverage for? This might affect whether you want basic or comprehensive coverage. Do you need family coverage for a spouse, partner, or child? Are you transgender and looking for a plan that covers transition-related care? Do you want to continue seeing specific providers with whom you have pre-existing relationships? Does the plan include the doctor, clinic, or hospital that you currently use? What kind of budget do you have for healthcare? The greater clarity you have about your healthcare needs and budget, the easier talking to an assister will be.

Once you have clarity on your needs, the questions in this guide help you understand more about what a specific plan offers. Start by reading through the sections. We suggest that everyone seeking healthcare consider asking assisters questions from the Cost and Coverage, Reproductive Healthcare, and Mental Health sections. The other areas – Definition of Family, LGBT youth, Transgender Healthcare, and HIV/AIDS – may only apply to you if you are seeking coverage for a same-sex partner or children in your care, or if you have specific healthcare needs in these areas. To see all the questions, download the PDF here.

Throughout the guide, in red you will find targeted questions about the ability of providers to understand LGBT issues. Assisters may not be able to answer these questions because this kind of information is not gathered consistently from healthcare providers. However, we included them because we know that these kinds of questions can make a critical difference in creating a trusted relationship with your healthcare provider. For a list of LGBT-knowledgeable healthcare providers, check out GLMA: Healthcare Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality. They keep a list of self-identified providers with experience working with the LGBT community. Once you identify a provider on the GLMA list, you can ask which plans work with that provider. You may also want to check out RAD Remedy, which has resources on affirming health care providers specifically for transgender, gender nonconforming, intersex, and queer people.

Finding a healthcare plan can require you to be a strong advocate for yourself and your family. You may need to call an assister more than once as you consider the full range of options. Assisters may refer you to specific community organizations that are more knowledgeable about LGBT-specific healthcare needs or suggest you talk to an insurance broker or representative in order to understand specific details about a plan. You can also use this same list of questions when talking to specific insurance company representatives or community partners.

If you are a member of a federally recognized tribe or currently receive health services through the Indian Health Service (IHS), the health reform law may give you new options. If you choose to enroll in a health plan through a marketplace, you may qualify for special benefits and protections offered to American Indians and Alaskan Natives. You can visit the IHS website to get more information. If you are a veteran, the Veteran's Administration has information about how the ACA impacts healthcare for veterans and their families. Where to Start, What to Ask may still have valuable questions for your current healthcare providers and/or as you evaluate options in the new health insurance marketplaces.