Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

Are You Queer & In Need of Medical Care?

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March 2, 2023

Considering the historical injustices of this country’s medical system it’s no surprise that our most crucial needs remain unmet. Given the obscure nature of medical policies, practices and terminology, medical literacy and access to services is especially limited to that of the most marginalized and vulnerable demographics, including but not limited to Black and Brown Queer communities experiencing homelessness, addiction, disability, immigration, and mental health crisis. If you’re a queer person of experience struggling to navigate health care services, this is the article for you. We’re hoping to provide some relief as we cover and define patient rights, queer health care guidelines, and the most commonly used medical terminology.

As a patient receiving care you have a right:
❖ To safe, considerate and respectful care, provided in a manner consistent with your beliefs and humanity
❖ To have all communications and records pertaining to your care be kept confidential
❖ To know the physician responsible for coordinating your care at the Clinical Center;
❖ To receive complete information about diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis from the physician, in terms that are easily understood. If it is medically inadvisable to give such information to you, it will be given to a legally authorized representative;
❖ To receive all information necessary for you to give informed consent prior to any procedure or treatment, including any potential risks or benefits, the probable duration of any incapacitation, and any alternatives
❖ To receive routine services when hospitalized at the Clinic Center in connection with your protocol. Complicating chronic conditions will be noted, reported to you, and treated as necessary without the assumption of long-term responsibility for their management
❖ To know in advance what appointment times and physicians are available and where to go for continuity of care provided by the Clinical Center
❖ To receive appropriate assessment of, and treatment for pain
❖ To refuse to participate in any research, suggested care or treatment

During your visit you’re likely to hear terms like:
Qualify – be entitled to a particular benefit or privilege by fulfilling a necessary condition.
Benefits – The health care items or services covered under a health insurance plan.
Healthcare ( 4 types )- the Beveridge model, the Bismarck model, the national health insurance model, and the out-of-pocket model. The U.S. uses all four of these models for different segments of its residents and citizens.
Doctor & Nurse– Doctors give orders and develop treatment plans, while nurses collaborate with a team of providers to put those plans into practice
Home Health Aid- A “Hands-on” custodial assistance provided in the home
PCP -primary care physician; primary care provider.
Sliding scale– A sliding fee scale is a model for payments administered to patients. The scale is intended for individuals who can’t afford care to begin with, including those at a lower income level, and self-payers. The sliding scale makes giving you services more affordable.
Out of pocket -Your expenses for medical care that aren’t reimbursed by insurance. Out-of-pocket costs include deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments for covered services plus all costs for services that aren’t covered.
Health services– The term “health care services” means any services provided by a health care professional, or by any individual working under the supervision of a health care professional, that relate to— the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of any human disease or impairment.

Unsure about how to identify your medical needs?
A Medical need can include any illness, injury, disability, dis-ease, condition or symptom that requires medical attention, services or care. Medical needs are different for everyone but they must all be met ethically within the Health Insurance Portability Act of 1996.

How does this apply to queer patients?
Patients that identify as Intersex, Trans or Gender variant may need access to life-saving services such as blood / STI paneling, hormonal therapy, routine cancer screenings, rehabilitation, surgery, therapy, reproductive health care, disability equipment and other health utilities. Along with clearance and referral forms for outpatient care. In addition to general rights, patients are protected under several codifications such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and The Affordable Care Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides individuals and families greater access to affordable health insurance options including medical, dental, vision, and other types of health insurance that may not otherwise be available.

Under the ACA, people can access health care coverage through a state or federal marketplace that offers a choice of plans. Insurers can’t refuse coverage based on gender or a pre-existing condition. There are no lifetime or annual limits on coverage and young adults can stay on their family’s insurance plan until age 26.

When visiting a doctor’s office, on the occasion that a patient meets the insurance requirements, they are put through a series of questioning, and screenings. And while this is standard procedure for patient intake, most patients encounter physicians who rarely have the cultural competency to properly explain complex medical vernacular or accurately prescribed care. As a result, systematically disparaging vulnerable communities by failing to provide informed consent, professional advice, or diagnosis. These are best known as medical malpractices.

Medical malpractice can look like:
❖ A doctor’s negligence caused you injury
❖ An injury caused by negligence leading to lifelong damages
❖ A PCP’s failure to diagnose; provide treatment or prescriptions
❖ Failure to warn a patient of medical risks
❖ Invasion of physical and emotional privacy
❖ Violation of confidentiality
❖ Discrimination, prejudice or any other form of harassment

Whether you’re continuing or just starting care with a provider, don’t be afraid to get curious, advocate or ask questions about your care. Your treatment should be unique and specific to your needs. So be sure to check in with your doctor during your next visit. Remember that this time you’ll have URGE with you every step of the way.

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