Tips for the LGBTQIA+ community to improve your physical and mental health

A group of diverse people standing together with two in front holding a rainbow heart.We know that many LGBTQIA+ individuals face unique challenges to their physical and mental health and financial security. In 2022, half of LGBTQIA+ adults had less than $50,000 in household savings and investments, compared to 38% of non-LGBTQIA+ adults. LGBTQIA+ adults have higher poverty rates than non-LGBTQIA+ adults. LGBTQIA+ adults also have less income and job stability than non-LGBTQIA+ adults. LGBTQIA+ adults are more likely than non-LGBTQIA+ adults to report using their savings and credit cards to meet their usual spending needs and to be unable to handle a $400 emergency expense with cash or its equivalent.

LGBTQIA+ individuals also often face different issues related to their physical and mental health.  They are more likely to report being in fair or poor health than non-LGBTQIA+ people. LGBTQIA+ adults were also two to three times more likely to report to have a mental illness than non-LGBTQIA+ adults and were much more likely to have had serious thoughts of suicide. 

That’s why it’s important for workers in the LGBTQIA+ community and their loved ones to make the most of your health coverage and protections to get needed health care at a low or no cost. The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has tips to help you improve your physical and mental health in a cost-effective way:

Understand your health coverage. Whether your health coverage is through your job or another source – review the information from your health plan to understand what benefits are covered. Then use it to help cover the costs for doctor visits, recommended screenings, prescriptions, and more. Take control of your health – early detection can improve treatment outcomes and quality of life. Check your health plan documents for information about coverage for treatments and medications that you and your family may need.

Use your mental health benefits. Many job-based health plans cover mental health services such as counseling, therapy and screenings for anxiety. Mental health parity laws generally require that mental health and substance use disorder benefits are provided with no more restrictions than medical and surgical benefits. When seeking treatment, you shouldn’t face barriers or roadblocks that don’t exist for medical and surgical benefits. Remember, your mental health is as crucial as your physical health to your overall well-being. Find out what services are available to you and use them. Check Understanding Your Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits for more information. 

Know your protections. There are many important health benefit protections under federal law including some protections that can help you get health services at low or no cost.  Knowing them ahead of time will prepare you to make informed decisions when needed to take advantage of your rights and get the health coverage you deserve.  These protections give you the right to information about how your health plan works, access to a claims process, coverage of specific medical conditions, and essential health services including key screenings and checks, as well as prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions and lifetime and annual limits on essential health benefits. Visit to learn more about the protections for your job-based health coverage

Continue your health coverage. Changing jobs can mean a loss of health coverage. Before switching jobs, ask your potential employer about the health plan offered. Ask about what it covers, the costs you'll pay, and whether you can continue with the same doctors. Check if the plan has a waiting period before you can enroll in coverage. COBRA may give you the opportunity to purchase temporary extended health coverage offered by your former employer while you are looking for a new job or during a waiting period for health benefits imposed by your new employer.

Explore your health coverage options. If your job does not offer health coverage, you have options. If you’re under age 26, check to see if your parents’ plan covers dependents.  If you’re married, you may be able to obtain coverage through your spouse’s plan. Check your health plan documents for information regarding coverage of same sex spouses and domestic partners. If you have a baby or adopt a child, you and the child may have a special enrollment opportunity to join your plan or your spouse’s plan before the next open enrollment season. There are additional options beyond job-based plans including government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid as well as the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Get help. If you have questions or problems related to your job-based health plan, you can speak to an EBSA Benefits Advisor by calling 1-866-444-3272 or online at We can help you with understanding your health plan coverage and working with your plan administrator to get answers to your questions and resolve any issues.

Follow these simple tips to improve your physical and mental health. You will have the added benefit of improving your quality of life!  As Oscar Wilde said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

Lisa M. Gomez is the Assistant Secretary for the Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.