The importance of health insurance is well documented. A recent brief  from the Kaiser Family Foundation detailed several ways in which the LGBT community faces health disparities and barriers to appropriate health care access. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a means of addressing the health disparities faced by LGBT people. The ACA offers a way for the LGBT community to improve their health and well-being by getting health insurance. This is especially important for LGBT older as they try to manage their health, which may include chronic illness. Under the ACA, no one can be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions, including HIV and cancer. Financial assistance is available to eligible individuals through the Marketplace (for individuals making up to $46,680 per year and for a family of four making up to $95,400). Furthermore, depending on the state, some individuals may be eligible for Medicaid coverage.

If you are not quite 65 years old and not yet covered by Medicare, you can get a plan through the Marketplace until your Medicare coverage begins. Once your Medicare coverage begins, you can cancel your Marketplace plan without penalty. You may also choose to keep you plan to supplement your Medicare. However, once you have Medicare you may no longer be eligible for some tax credits and the cost of your plan may go up. If you are 65 years old and not eligible for Medicare, you may be eligible for tax credits that can help you purchase an insurance plan.

If you enroll by this coming Thursday, December 15, 2016 your coverage will start on January 1, 2017. However, Thursday is not the end of open enrollment! Enrollment continues until January 31, 2017. There are many ways in which you are able to get assistance, answers to questions you may have, and help signing up.

Start by visiting the Healthcare.gov website. Here you can enter your city, state, or ZIP Code and find local organizations that offer assistance. If you prefer to speak to someone try calling 1-800-318-2596 to get 24/7 help in many languages. Having health insurance is an important component to successful aging and now is the time for you to get it.

Resources that may be helpful include: