Accessing LGBTQ+ affirming providers and resources to address ongoing health care disparities
Stigma, discrimination and lack of medical training all contribute to care challenges
Most of us have experienced challenges with finding high-quality, affordable health care, even under the best circumstances. Long wait times for certain types of health care providers continue to be an issue for many people and families. This is especially true for those seeking behavioral health care, resources and support.
However, individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning among other sexualities (LGBTQ+) have an especially difficult time finding the health care they need. This is due to a variety of factors, such as discrimination and bias against the LGBTQ+ community (including unintentional implicit bias), and the fear of disclosing one’s sexual orientation. There’s also the issue of health care providers receiving inadequate education and training on the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals.
None of us are immune to the negative physical and psychological effects of hiding who we are. It can lead to chronic fear or anxiety about reaching out for help, self-medicating with substance misuse, and other behaviors that can have significant and long-term impacts. These and other factors have contributed to health disparities and harm across all ages of the LGBTQ+ community. According to the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM):
- Youth who are lesbian, gay or bisexual are five times more likely to attempt suicide
- Adult LGBT populations have higher rates of substance use, including tobacco and alcohol
- LGBT elders may experience social isolation as they are twice as likely to live alone
Ongoing LGBTQ+ youth mental health crisis, particularly for communities of color
In 2023, the national nonprofit The Trevor Project released its fifth consecutive U.S. National Survey on Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People. More than 28,000 LGBTQ people ages 13 to 24 were surveyed across the U.S., which showed:
- 67% of LGBTQ young people reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety, including nearly 3/4 of transgender and nonbinary young people and nearly 3 in 5 cisgender young people
- 54% of LGBTQ young people reported experiencing symptoms of depression, including more than 3 in 5 transgender and nonbinary young people and more than 2 in 5 cisgender young people
- 41% of LGBTQ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year—and young people who are transgender, nonbinary and/or people of color reported higher rates than their peers
- 14% of LGBTQ young people attempted suicide in the past year, including nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary young people and nearly 1 in 10 cisgender young people
- 56% of LGBTQ young people who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it
These are just a few of the report’s findings, which reinforce similar studies and reporting over the years on the health care challenges and disparities faced by the LGBTQ+ community.
Accessing culturally competent and LGBTQ+ affirming care
As part of our commitment to inclusive health care, Regence health plans support each individual’s unique journey, including gender-affirming care benefits and guidance. Regence members are encouraged to sign in to their online account to access tools for finding a provider, resources and more. Our website includes information on different types of providers, including virtual care and different types of behavioral health support. Regence members can also search for specific care needs on regence.com, including an LGBTQ+ filter while researching providers.
Regence is also proud to partner with OutCare Health, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that empowers millions of LGBTQ+ individuals with comprehensive resources, support and education. OutCare’s website offers the OutList directory that includes affirming health care providers who understand LGBTQ+ needs based on geographic location, specialty and other search options. OutCare also offers a comprehensive directory of LGBTQ+ heath care resources in all 50 states, including primary care, mental health services, youth groups, shelters, support groups, STI testing and more.
When searching for health care providers, it’s important to confirm whether a provider is in your health plan network. Regence members can visit regence.com to confirm a provider’s in-network status to ensure they pay the least amount for care received based on their health plan benefits.
We’re here to help
Whether you’re searching for an LGBTQ+ affirming provider or have other questions about your health plan, Regence Customer Service is available to help. Sign in to your online member at regence.com account to message or email us, or you can call the number on your Regence member ID card.
If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, call, text or chat 988 to connect to trained counselors. The three-digit number provides an easy-to-remember way to reach out for help, directly connecting anyone struggling with emotional distress or those at risk of suicide with quality, accessible care and support. 988 launched on July 16, 2022, to address the pressing need for additional mental health support for people in crisis across the U.S.