Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Bill to Include LGBT Coloradans in Health Data Collection

Governor Hickenlooper has signed HB13-1088, which broadens the data being collected on health needs of Coloradans to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, as well as other important factors including disability, age and income. The bill also renames the Office of Health Disparities to the Office of Health Equity.

In Colorado, the rate of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who smoke is twice the rate of heterosexuals. Twenty-six percent of gays and lesbians and 28% of bisexuals report binge drinking compared to 16% of heterosexuals. Nationally, LGBT youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to commit suicide. Lesbian women are less likely to get preventive health care services they need, resulting in higher risks of breast and cervical cancer. And according to recent studies, LGBT seniors are twice as likely to live alone, four times less likely to have adult children to help them and far more fearful of discrimination from health care workers.

As a precursor to HB13-1088, last year One Colorado did its own survey of 1300 LGBT people across the state about their health care needs. In our report on the survey, Invisible: The State of LGBT Health in Colorado, we found that like most Coloradans, LGBT Coloradans worry about paying for their health care and struggle to finance their care.

The Invisible report also found LGBT Coloradans report significant challenges to accessing LGBT-friendly care from providers. Only 60% of survey respondents were open about their sexual orientation with their providers. And incredibly, 20% overall and over 50% of transgender Coloradans reported being denied or refused health care. The Invisible survey provided context for the concerns of LGBT Coloradans with their health care, or lack of it.

With more data and timely information on the health needs of LGBT Coloradans, we can better address the inequities they face in health care and reach the goal of becoming the healthiest state for ALL Coloradans.