We know that LGBTQ Coloradans often face many challenges and barriers to achieving a healthy life. While LGBTQ individuals have many of the same concerns as the general population, like affordability, access, and quality of care, they also face several unique challenges that affect the ability to live healthy and affirmed lives. Lack of understanding, discrimination, stigma, violence, higher rates of health problems, as well as other barriers, can compound and produce worse health outcomes.  The following resources help explain a patient’s rights and protections when accessing health care and benefits, information to know when working with a medical or behavioral health provider, and various community resources.

Know Your Federal Rights:

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) offers resources to explain up-to-date rights and protections for transgender people. While organizations like One Colorado and NCTE work to strengthen and expand legal protections, there are steps you can take if you face discrimination today in every state and in almost every area of life. Each resource includes how to file complaints of discrimination or mistreatment and how to find legal help. Topic areas include airport security, health care, housing, and homeless shelters, social security, health care, and protections for survivors of violence, among others. Please note that these are an explanation of federal protections, and Colorado-specific protections may vary or be stronger. If you have questions, please reach out to info@one-colorado.org.

Know Your Colorado Rights

In 2008, the state of Colorado passed the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) which protects Coloradans from discrimination based on disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, religion, national origin, or ancestry in education, employment, and in places of public accommodation, like a healthcare facility. The state of Colorado defines sexual orientation as “an individual’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status or another individual’s perception thereof,” thus protecting transgender Coloradans.

CADA created the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The Director and the staff of the Division receive, investigate, and make determinations on charges alleging unfair or discriminatory practices in violation of the Act. If you feel like you have been wrongfully denied, you may file an appeal here.

Your Rights in Health Care

Private Insurance Plans Sold in Colorado* Cannot:

    • Consider being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer a pre-existing condition.
    • Decide what is medically necessary for you. That is a decision between you and your
      medical provider.
    • Deny transgender Coloradans services that are offered to cisgender (non-transgender)
      Coloradans.
    • Discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity

*If your health plan ID card has a “CO-DOI” designation on it, your plan is subject to Colorado’s insurance laws and rules. If you are wrongfully denied medically necessary services from your health insurance carrier, it’s your right to:

Get Covered by Health Insurance

What do you need to know?

    1. You may qualify for financial assistance.
    2. You can no longer be discriminated against as an LGBTQ person.
    3. Same-sex spouses have equal access to family coverage.
    4. Every health care plan covers core essential health benefits like routine check-ups and
      preventative care.

Private Insurance

Open enrollment for next year begins on November 1, 2019. If you need insurance now and you have a “life-changing event,” you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). A 60-day period outside the regular open enrollment period when an individual and their family have a right to sign up for health insurance. SEPs can be used to newly enroll in the marketplace or to switch to a different plan. Learn more to see if you qualify.

You can find more information at Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s marketplace to purchase health insurance.

Looking for a transgender-inclusive plan? You can check out One Colorado’s 2019 Health Insurance Buyer’s Guides to see how various insurance plans sold on Colorado’s marketplace covered gender-affirming care, hormone therapy, and prescription drugs for HIV/AIDS.

The next open enrollment period is November 1, 2019-January 31, 2020.

Health First Colorado:

Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid program, is an income-based public health insurance program for eligible Coloradans. It has ongoing enrollment For lower-income individuals and families. To determine if you qualify, click here. In 2017, it was expanded to include coverage for gender-affirming care. You can find out what’s covered here.

Gender Affirming Care Covered by Medicaid: Medicaid was expanded in 2017 to include coverage for transgender services.

Medicare:

Medicare is one of the country’s most important health programs, providing health insurance for tens of millions of adults over 65 and people with disabilities. As with private insurance, transgender people sometimes encounter confusion about what is covered or barriers to accessing coverage—both for transition-related care and for routine preventive care. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) offers information and resources about the type of care covered based on different types of Medicare plans, how to appeal a denial, how to change a gender marker with Medicare, and other resources for transgender people covered by Medicare. You can find information about Gender-Affirming Care Covered by Medicare here.

Patient Educational Resources

Healthcare Resources

  • Health Insurance Buyers Guides: Each year, One Colorado releases health insurance guides so that transgender Coloradans and people living with HIV can make informed decisions about which insurance companies provide them with coverage that meets their needs. You can find information here about how plans on Connect for Health Colorado covers gender affirming care, hormone therapy, and coverage for PrEP and HIV medications.
  • Colorado Name Change Project: The Colorado Name Change Project can help you find information and forms on how to update your name and gender marker in the state of Colorado. Its goal is to help you better understand and navigate the process of changing your name and/or your gender marker.  It has automated the forms needed for an Adult and Minor Name Changes in Colorado and is working on form packages for your Gender Marker Change.
  • Transformative Freedom Fund: The Transformative Freedom Fund provides financial support for transition-related care to trans* folks in Colorado. The application cycle is open January-April every year and funding decisions are made by mid-June for each funding cycle.
  • Colorado Health Network’s Health Insurance and Medication Assistance Program: This program provides direct financial assistance for medical services, health insurance premiums, and medication costs for people residing in Colorado who are either living with HIV or on PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy.
  • The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) helps ensure that people living with HIV and AIDS who are uninsured and under-insured have access to medication. You can find eligibility criteria and application instructions here.
  • The Public Health Intervention Program (PHIP) provides financial assistance for individuals on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) as HIV prevention. PrEP is an FDA-approved, once-a-day pill for HIV prevention. PHIP is available to any person living in Colorado whose income is less than 500% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). You can find eligibility criteria and application instructions here.

LGBTQ Youth and their Families
For young LGBTQ Coloradans, finding a provider who is safe to talk to, respects confidentiality, and is affirming in the treatment of their patients’ individuality is essential for getting the healthcare they need and deserve. The following are resources that can help you find this kind of provider.

  • Children’s Hospital Colorado’s TRUE Center for Gender Diversity is a comprehensive care center specifically set up for gender-diverse children, adolescents, and young adults. For more information, call  720-777-TRUE (720-777-8783) or email at TRUE@childrenscolorado.org.
  • Denver health offers gender-affirming care and has multiple resources for youth in seek of respectful care. For more information or to make an appointment, call 303-602-6819.
  • The Center has an entire list of gender-affirming care providers, including both mental and physical health. For more information, call (303) 733-7743 or email at info@lgbtqcolorado.org. The Center also offers a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth, Rainbow Alley.
  • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Education has a list of healthcare resources for LGBTQ individuals (including youth-specific care centers) throughout Colorado. Contact information provided on the list.
  • OutCare Health has resources for LGBTQ-friendly healthcare providers across the country
  • The Trans Youth Equality Foundation (TYEF) provides education, advocacy, and support for transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth and their families. Its mission is to share information about the unique needs of this community, partnering with families, educators and service providers to help foster a healthy, caring, and safe environment for all transgender children. You can find information for parents and legal guardians here.
  • Some states still require you to have a statement from a medical professional in order to change your identification documents. You can find a template for that statement here.