It is my hope that in the next decade that the United States takes action to confirm that health care is a human right, not just a right for those who can afford to pay for “health”. We do not have a health care system, we have a health insurance system controlled by corporations who get to profit on illness as a commodity and it is leaving behind our most vulnerable populations, poor, persons of color and LGBTQ folx among them.
However, the fight for universal coverage is not enough. Coverage, while an essential step towards equity, is not synonymous with access. True accessibility takes into consideration unique training competencies and proximity. In a 2018 study published by the Human Rights Watch it was found that 41 percent of LBGTQ folx outside of major metropolitan cities felt it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find an alternative health care provider if they were refused care at a hospital.
If a trans person has to travel hours from their small town, for an appointment that they scheduled long ago, to the only practitioner who will serve them in a major city, this is not access. If they arrive and they are misgendered and discriminated against, this is also not access. LGBTQ folx, people of color and all marginalized and intersectional identities deserve a medical community, in the smallest of towns and the largest of hospitals, from intake desk workers all through surgeons, who have an education on anti-discrimation practices, implicit bias and cultural competencies. True equity in the health care system can only happen when all barriers to access have been examined.
Marti Payseur is the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Stewardship and Events Coordinator for OneIowa and a co-owner of Thistle’s Summit Bed and Breakfast