Practical and emotional obstacles can hinder people in the LGBTQIA+ community from seeking the healthcare they need. Interacting with doctors who may not be knowledgeable or supportive of the issues faced by the queer community can be uncomfortable and alienating. Relying on random in-network availability is a challenge in itself. If a doctor is an ally, trekking to an office far away with long waiting room times can be cumbersome with the daily hustle and bustle of our busy lives. The creation of Equal Health opens opportunities to work within your schedule, providing life-enriching evaluations with uncomplicated access to prescriptions. Equal Health exists to assist LGBTQIA+ patients within a supportive, non-judgmental space, boosting empowerment along your personal healthcare journey.
Created by Dr. Avantika Varma after a years-long involvement in healthcare spaces, Equal Health is a response to seeing clear obstacles and needs that were not being met for the LGBTQIA+ community on a larger scale. After receiving a Master's in Public Health, further framing her work in terms of population health, Equal Health was established as an alternative to the long wait lists and confusion around insurance plans and coverage. Along with some of the social and even legal backlash to queer embodiment in the Southeast, and the lack of required medical study around subjects like trans healthcare in general, Equal Health has been determined to help meet the needs of the growing LGBTQIA+ community, offering a variety of services as a telehealth company. Within Equal Health’s personalized, professional and compassionate patient-centered care is the core foundation and mission of the company: to be a safe, supportive and inclusive space.
“Our mission at Equal Health is to increase access to healthcare services and to improve health outcomes of the LGBTQIA+ community." - Dr. Avantika Varma
As a telehealth company, Equal Health does not offer in-person visits. However, depending on the reason for the visit and the membership services purchased, appropriate labs can be ordered to maximize the healthcare experience. For example, an HIV prevention visit will include appropriate lab orders based on the most up-to-date clinical guidelines set by the CDC. In-person labs are scheduled through Quest Diagnostics, which has locations across the U.S., with a provided location list and a direct scheduling link. Although Equal Health is not currently partnered with an at-home lab testing facility, a future plan to roll out a similar service is in the works. Though memberships are not insurance eligible, prescriptions and labs can be covered by a Flexible Spending Account/Health Savings Account.
Equal Health’s memberships are more cost-effective than many insurance plans. According to a detailed study in 2022 by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the annual cost of health care premiums for a single-payer compared, cost-to-cost, to all of Equal Health’s membership services annually show a significant difference in savings. Patients who pay a monthly Equal Health membership ensure access to a bundle of services and high-quality care, an alternative model that allows doctors to spend more time with the patient rather than the complicated process of insurance billing. There is no need for the extensive wait and extra visits and costs to receive referrals; Equal Health cuts out the requirement for the traditional go-between and provides these services without wait. Additionally, Equal Health will be launching a new Care Fund to assist underserved members of the LGBTQIA+ community, currently organizing fundraising to cover base membership plan costs.
Equal Health has partnered with athenahealth, and uses their patient portal, allowing patients to easily access upcoming appointments, lab results, lab appointment reminders, and medications through one convenient log-in. Patients can also request refills and reach out to their healthcare providers in a HIPAA compliant manner that keeps all of their health information secure. The AthenaHealth patient portal app that can be used on smartphones; virtual visits are conducted using a secure link that is sent to the patient prior to their scheduled appointment. Your healthcare journey should not be complicated, cumbersome or time-consuming. Equal Health is here to provide a streamlined approach that takes the anxiety out of healthcare access and fosters trust and empowerment in your healthcare journey.
Membership services currently include: Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy, HIV Prevention/PrEP, Mental Health, and Weight Management. Equal Health also provides a one-time service for Sexual Health, no membership needed. Visit the our services page to get started. Appointments are available now!