Gay Rights The study looked athealth care access and overall health among LGBT groups and notedsignificant differences in the habits and needs of gay, lesbian andbisexual individuals. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Even if they have coverage, lesbian, gay and bisexual adults are morelikely to delay medical care than straight men and women.

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So finds a policy brief from UCLA that looked at rates ofhealth care coverage in California, findingthat even though LGB adults in California have rates of healthinsurance coverage on par with or better than that of straight menand women in the state, they're more likely to postpone seeing the doctor when they needmedical care.

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Related: A tipping point for LGBT policies in theworkplace

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If coverage is in place, why the delay? One reason, according toSusan Babey, a coauthor of the study, is fear of being discriminated against by medical personnel.“Sexual minorities who have had a bad experience with a medicalprovider because of their sexual orientation may try to avoidrepeating it,” Babey says.

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The study considered people's sexual orientation as it looked atdifferences in access to care, behaviors like smoking or failing toexercise that negatively affect health and the health problems thatcan result from those behaviors (hypertension, beingoverweight).

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Findings show that 24 percent of bisexual men and 22 percent ofstraight men say they don't have a regular doctor, while just 13percent of gay men say so; but 20 percent of gay men and 21 percentof bisexual men delayed seeking health care in the past year,compared with 13 percent of straight men.

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It also found that 13 percent of straight women and 15 percentof lesbians reported not having a regular doctor, while 22 percentof bisexual women say the same thing. But 29 percent of lesbiansand bisexual women said they delayed seeking medical care in thepast year compared with just 18 percent of straight women.

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Among other findings, bisexuals have the worst overall access toa doctor they see on a regular basis as well as high rates ofunhealthy behaviors. Gay men, however, report better overall healthand fewer behaviors that lead to obesity and hypertension thanstraight men. And straight women have the best access to a doctorthey see on a regular basis, as well as the best overall health andthe lowest rates of unhealthy behaviors.

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“Our study shows bisexuals have among the greatest need forregular health care, but are the least likely to get it,” JoelleWolstein, a research scientist at the center and the study's leadauthor, said in a statement. Wolstein added, “Even if they have ahigh-quality insurance plan through an employer, health equity isfar from a reality for many LGBTQ patients.”

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.