Increasing accessibility of Washington Healthplanfinder for gender-diverse individuals
Gender-diverse: Small steps towards a larger goal
Recent system updates
In May 2020, in response to changes made by the Department of Health and Department of Licensing to add a third gender option – gender x – to identity documents, the Exchange began working to make Washington Healthplanfinder accessible to gender-diverse individuals. It was necessary to make updates to Washington Healthplanfinder as the only options available in response to sex were Male or Female which left gender-diverse individuals without a way to accurately answer that question. However, in order to capture the information necessary to screen individuals for all available benefits, it was necessary for the Exchange to ask customers to provide their sex assigned at birth.
These changes are the result of meaningful outreach to external stakeholders representing gender-diverse communities in Washington. Their feedback was incorporated during the design process and is reflected in the final language displayed on screen.
Continuous Improvement: next steps
The Exchange recognizes the initial on-screen changes are a small step toward ensuring Washington Healthplanfinder is accessible for gender-diverse individuals. A shared long-term goal of the Exchange and the partner agencies we rely on is to make the application more culturally sensitive. This includes exploring how to make the answer choices to sex assigned at birth more inclusive, adding a question affirming the gender identity of all customers, and making other related system and process changes. We are committed to doing this in partnership with impacted communities.
The Exchange recognizes the changes were implemented in May are a short-term solution while long-term solutions (including inclusion of gender x, adding an additional question related to gender identity, and related changes to make the application more culturally sensitive). Cross-agency workgroups have been established as part of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Governance process to move this work forward.