LGBTQ+ Health Care Benefits for 2024

two men looking at their prescription bottles

It’s now more important than ever to attract and retain a diverse workforce. As an employer, investing in inclusive health care benefits helps you stay competitive and shows your current and potential employees that their well-being is top of mind. Offering a comprehensive and progressive health benefits package that meets the needs of the LGBTQ+ community helps your company achieve its goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Why inclusive health care matters to employees

“People are realizing that employee health is no longer just about being there for illnesses, injuries, and emergencies,” says Timothy Lightner, vice President of Product Strategy and Portfolio Development at Highmark Inc “Health insurance is changing. Now it’s about creating better, more equitable access, providing care earlier, and helping people meet long-term personal wellness goals.”

That’s why seven out of ten employers said they plan to promote DEI benefit and well-being programs over the next three years. And 23% of employers already offer these types of programs.1

As an employer, you can meet the increasing demand for inclusive, LGBTQ+ health insurance by offering:

  • Easier access to behavioral health services
  • Gender-affirming services
  • More options to build a family

Improved access to behavioral health care

LGBTQ+ individuals are nearly three times more likely than heterosexual individuals to experience mental and behavioral health challenges such as substance use, depression, and anxiety.2. Comprehensive mental health benefits and support services are vital parts of an inclusive health care model. 

“We knew that behavioral health was a huge topic we needed to address with our membership,” says Dr. Anil Singh, senior vice president and executive medical director at Highmark Health. “People were waiting months and months to see a provider. And when they did find a provider, how did they know they had found the right one for their needs? The experience needed to be personalized and proactive. We wanted to reduce the stigma around behavioral health treatment and make care available when and where our members needed it.” 

Highmark’s collaboration with Spring Health will give most members easier, faster access to mental and behavioral health services starting January 1, 2024. Our Mental Well-Being digital tool lets members find providers in their area, schedule virtual visits, and do much more. Members with access can select providers that are right for them, including psychologists and psychiatrists with experience in LGBTQ+ issues.

Support to build a family

The path to parenthood looks different for everyone, which is why Highmark offers inclusive plans with a range of family-building benefits. We encourage members to connect with our Member Service team to find out about employer-provided coverage for fertility services and assisted reproduction.

Comprehensive gender-affirming services

Gender-affirming care describes a wide range of services for nonbinary and transgender people. These services may include everything from medication and surgery to preventive care and mental health therapy. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans estimates that up to 30% of employers are now including gender-affirming care in their benefit plans, up from 12% in 2016.3. This rise in trans-inclusive coverage illustrates employers’ growing awareness of how important these benefits are to their workforce. 

“Overall health and well-being extend well beyond the traditional definition of medicine,” says Lightner. Along with other top companies, Highmark embraces and promotes an inclusive culture by offering medically necessary gender-affirming treatments and procedures tailored to the needs of transgender individuals. These treatments may include hormone therapy — such as puberty blockers for adolescents — as well as gender-affirming surgery. These services also include age-appropriate screenings for breast and cervical cancer for transgender individuals. 

In addition, 76% of our self-funded customers (employers who handle the cost of employee benefit claims) voluntarily offer gender-affirming services.

Our commitment to progressive health care

At Highmark, we believe that whole-person health means tailoring care to the needs and preferences of the people we serve. It means providing equal, and better, access to care for everyone, including the LGBTQ+ community.

Highmark consistently earns top marks on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF) Corporate Equality Index. We’ve also earned distinctions in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” from the HRCF. Find out how we’re continuing this mission to achieve diversity, equality, and inclusion in health care.

Highmark Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. All references to “Highmark” in this document are references to the Highmark company that is providing the member’s health benefits or health benefit administration and/or to one or more of its affiliated Blue companies.

  1. Aon. 2020 Aon Health Survey.

  2. American Psychiatric Association. Diversity and Health Equity Education: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning.

  3. International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. The Rise of Gender-Affirmation Health Care Benefits.

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