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Obamacare has cut uninsured rates for middle class LGBT people by 24 percent

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  1. The uninsured rate among low- and middle-income LGBT Americans fell by a quarter last year, from 34 percent in 2013 to 26 percent in 2014.
  2. Declines were biggest among those with the lowest incomes, many of whom qualified for large subsidies to buy private coverage.
  3. LGBT communities still have higher uninsured rates than the general population.

Obamacare cuts LGBT uninsured rates

The uninsured rate among low- and middle-income LGBT Americans has fallen by a quarter since the Affordable Care Act took effect, a new report from the Center for American Progress shows.

The CAP report relies on two surveys of LGBT Americans who earn less than 400 percent of the poverty line (about $44,000 for an individual).  This is the cut-off for any financial help buying insurance coverage under Obamacare. And it finds that, between 2013 and 2014, their uninsured rate fell from 34 to 26 percent.

The decline has been slightly faster than the drop among the general population, where the uninsured rate fell by by about a quarter.

The gains were particularly large among lower income groups, which were eligible for bigger insurance subsidies or the Medicaid expansion. The uninsured rate for LGBT individuals earning between 139 and 200 percent of the poverty line (about $15,000 to $22,000 for an individual), fell by 18 percentage points.

This is the group that gets the most generous subsidies to buy private insurance. The health care law limits their contribution to monthly premiums to no more than 6 percent of their income.

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LGBT communities still have higher uninsured rates

The CAP survey shows that 26 percent of LGBT Americans under 400 percent of the poverty line are uninsured. Among the general population the number is 20 percent.

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LGBT people can face unique obstacles gaining coverage. There's no federal law, for example, that requires all companies to offer health benefits to their employees' same-sex partners. And the CAP report argues that some individuals could miss out on coverage, too, as "anti-LGBT bias in hiring [may] push many LGBT people into unemployment or low-wage jobs that do not offer benefits such as health insurance coverage."

As a result, only 38 percent of LGBT people under 400 percent of the poverty line have an offer of insurance through either their own or their spouse's employer. Among the general population, that number stands at 58 percent.

And even within the LGBT community, there's widespread disparities in coverage rates. Gay and bisexual individuals have higher insured rates than lesbian women. And the uninsured rate among transgender populations is especially high. CAP's data suggests that it's come down significantly under the Affordable Care Act, although their report cautions that the 2013 survey only included a smaller number of transgender individuals.

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Correction: An initial version of this story misstated the size of the decline of the uninsured rate for LGBT people. It is 24 percent.