Shaunti Meyer, a certified nurse-midwife and medical director at STRIDE Community Health Center in Colorado, doesn’t usually disclose her sexual orientation to patients. But at times it feels appropriate.
After telling a transgender patient that she is a lesbian, Meyer learned the woman had recently taken four other trans women, all estranged from their birth families, under her wing. They were living together as a family, and, one by one, each came to see Meyer at the Aurora clinic where she practices. Some were at the beginning of their journeys as transgender women, she said, and they felt comfortable with her as a provider, believing she understood their needs and could communicate well with them.
“They feel more connected because I’m part of the community,” Meyer said.
Research shows that when patients see health providers who share their cultural background, speak the same language, or mirror their experiences, their health care outcomes improve. Now, Colorado is trying to help patients find such providers. As part of this effort, the state is asking insurers offering certain health plans to collect demographic information, such as race, ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, from both health professionals and enrollees — a move that some health care workers say could threaten their safety.
A new state law takes effect later this year that requires insurers to offer the “Colorado Op …