How the Health Care Law Offers an Ounce of Prevention

The health care reform law includes free ways to stay healthy.

BY Lucas Grindley

May 17 2012 7:00 AM ET

Obama signs the health care law in 2010.

If the Supreme Court doesn’t scrap President Obama’s landmark health care law, the effects for LGBT people are legion. On prevention alone, the HealthCare.gov website lists more than 80 types of free tests, immunizations, and other preventive measures.
But all that complexity boils down into one simple piece of advice.

“Go to the doctor,” emphasizes Kellan Baker, a health policy analyst with the Center for American Progress, which teamed up with the National Coalition for LGBT Health to write a 31-page report titled “What Health Care Reform Means for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans.” “A lot of LGBT people often don’t feel comfortable going to the doctor,” says Baker, a coauthor of the report. The medical profession has a checkered history with LGBT patients, but staying home is like staying in the closet, and Baker warns, “When you catch something later, it’s worse.”

LGBT people suffer higher rates of some cancers, often because of their disproportionate rate of smoking. Discrimination and other stresses put gay people at increased risk for mental health problems, which the new law also targets with screenings.

The Affordable Care Act established a task force whose job it is to grade new preventive procedures on their effectiveness. Anything getting an A or B becomes mandatory for insurers to cover without co-pay.

The government is mandating that preventive care be essentially free because it saves so much money in the long run. “Estimates are that investing $1 in prevention returns savings of $5.60 over time, and that’s part of the purpose of the Affordable Care Act,” Baker says, “to turn the sick care system into a health care system.”

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