LGBT Patients See Gains but Not Equality in Healthcare Index

Joe Barber Jr, PhD

June 19, 2012

June 19, 2012 — Significant improvements have been made in the access to healthcare for LGBT patients and the quality of care they receive, although much work still remains to achieve true healthcare equality, according to the findings of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) 2012 survey, released by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

"Just a few short years ago the healthcare industry wasn't having conversations about LGBT healthcare equality," stated Chad Griffin, president of the HRC, in a press release. "Now, thanks to advocacy by the LGBT community and some standout leaders, growing numbers of healthcare providers are making an explicit commitment to treat all patients with dignity and respect. The healthcare industry is beginning to heed the call for fairness and compassion."

The HEI 2012 survey consisted of 24 questions assessing healthcare assess and quality in 4 core areas: nonpatient discrimination, visitation, nonemployee discrimination, and training. The 2012 survey consisted of 407 institutions, a 40% increase over the participation in the 2011 survey.

In particular, 71 institutions, encompassing 234 facilities, achieved the status of "Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality" in the 2012 survey, a 162% increase over the number who achieved this status in the 2011 survey. This status is awarded to institutions that attain a perfect score in all 4 core areas.

Regarding the core area of nonpatient discrimination, more than 90% of participating institutions include "sexual orientation" in their discrimination policy. However, nearly 25% of institutions do not protect their transgender patients from discrimination.

In the core area of visitation, approximately 75% of institutions have visitation policies that grant equal visitation rights to same-sex and different-sex couples. In addition, 74% of respondents permit same-sex couples equal visitation rights to minor children as different-sex couples.

Concerning the core area of nonemployment discrimination, more than 96% of institutions prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and approximately 75% of respondents prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

In the core area of training, just over 67% of institutions provide employee training in LGBT-centered care, and 84% of these respondents used HRC-provided training.

Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius indicated that the current administration supports healthcare equality for LGBT patients. "I commend the LGBT and healthcare communities for the progress made, and I am proud to be part of an administration that has a historic record of accomplishment for the LGBT community," said Sebelius during a press conference. "We will continue to take action to ensure that LGBT Americans get equal treatment in healthcare settings and that all patients are treated with the dignity they deserve."

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