Colon Cancer - Why Gay People Are at Increased Risk

Lack of Health Insurance a Big Factor

lesbian couple
Patryce Bak/Taxi/Getty Images

Editorial note: This article was originally published in August 2007, well before the June 2015 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court requiring states to allow same-sex marriage. Furthermore, under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), group and individual market insurers cannot deny enrollment to same-sex couples who are legally married. Thus, this article offers a historical account of laws and policies that are no longer applicable. However, it still remains to be seen whether recent changes in social policy will be effective in helping rectify health-care disparities experienced by homosexual men and women.

The main reason why homosexual men and women are at increased risk for colon cancer in the U.S. is because they aren't afforded equal rights. This disparity increases healthcare barriers for gay people, decreasing access to preventive care and increasing the risk for a number of conditions, including colon cancer.

Employers of Gay People

Since many employers (including the largest employer in America -- the federal government) do not allow a same-sex partner coverage on an employee's policy, gay people are often at a disadvantage in affording medical care. If one partner works while the other stays at home to raise children, the stay-at-home parent will either need to remain uninsured or pay out-of-pocket to self-insure.

Gay People in Binational Relationships

Members of binational couples are particularly affected when the non-citizen is unable to stay in the U.S. In this case, the citizen cannot even pay extra to insure his or her partner because the non-citizen is ineligible for U.S. coverage.

What Can You Do?

If you'd like to learn more about healthcare barriers gay people encounter, please visit the National Coalition for LGBT Health's website. One of the coalition's main goals is to raise public awareness of the unique health concerns and disparities among LGBT communities.


Courtenay, Will. "Behavioral Factors Associated with Disease, Injury, and Death among Men: Evidence and Implications for Prevention." The Journal of Men's Studies 9.1 (Aug. 2000): 81-142. 26 Jul. 2006 

Heck, Julia and Sell, Randall. "Health Care Access Among Individuals Involved in Same-Sex Relationships." Medscape Today. 20 Jul. 2006. 26 Jul. 2006 

Schwartz, Martin. "Gay Men and the Health Care System." Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 5.1 (1996): 19-32. 26 Jul. 2006 

Peterson, K. J. and Bricker-Jenkins, M. "Lesbians and the Health Care System." Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 5.1 (1996): 33-47. 26 Jul. 2006 

Roberts, S. J. and Sorensen, L. "Health Related Behaviors and Cancer Screening of Lesbians: Results from the Boston Lesbian Health Project.Women & Health 28.4 (1999): 1-12. PubMed. 26 Jul. 2006.