LGBTQ adults have negative health care experiences 2x more than heterosexual peers

LGBTQ Health care

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer adults are twice as likely as heterosexual adults to report negative health care experiences, according to a recently released report. Photo: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer adults are twice as likely as heterosexual adults to report negative health care experiences, according to a recently released report.

More than 30% percent of LGBTQ adults say they were treated unfairly or with disrespect or had one negative experience with a health care provider, compared to 15% of heterosexual adults, according to a report by KFF, the health care and polling nonprofit formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation.

It’s the fourth report recently that has used data to spotlight how discrimination has a profoundly negative impact on the health of the LGBTQ+ community.

Of the LGBTQ adults who reported negative experiences in the KFF report, 61% said a provider assumed something about them without asking, suggested they were personally to blame for a health problem, ignored a direct request or question, or refused to prescribe needed pain medication, compared to 31% of non-LGBTQ adults who reported negative experiences.

Lindsey Dawson, director of LGBTQ health policy at KFF, said the report highlights the immediate need for change from the status quo to help members of the LGBTQ community.

“The survey suggests a need for targeted and culturally appropriate policy solutions aimed at improving the well-being of the LGBTQ community broadly to promote health equity,” Dawson said. “This could include policymaking that addresses discrimination in social institutions, like health care, and challenges in accessing culturally competent mental health, as well as systemic drivers of stigma and discrimination.”

Black and Latino LGBTQ adults were more likely than white LGBTQ adults to report unfair or disrespectful treatment by a health care provider related to their racial or ethnic background, the report said.

Of LGBTQ adults who reported having negative health care experiences in the last three years, they said the encounters impacted their health.

  • 24% said those experiences caused their health to get worse, compared to 9% of non-LGBTQ adults
  • 39% said those experiences made them less likely to seek health care, compared to 15% of non-LGBTQ adults
  • 36% said such negative experiences caused them to switch health care providers, compared to 16% of non-LGBTQ adults

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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