Men in same-sex marriages enjoy better health, have fewer doctor visits and lower health care costs compared to other gay or bisexual men, researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health wrote in the American Journal of Public Health. They added that when states offer legal protections for same-sex marriages, as is the case in Massachusetts, gay men generally have lower overall levels of stress. The article is titled “Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Health Care Use and Expenditures in Sexual Minority Men: A Quasi-Natural Experiment.”

Lead author, Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, PhD, said:

“Our results suggest that removing barriers to marriage improves the health of
gay and bisexual men.”

During a twelve-month period after the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2003, the following changes were noted among gay and bisexual males:

  • 13% fewer medical care visits
  • A significant drop in the number of mental healthcare visits
  • 14% lower health care costs
  • HIV-related visits remained about the same among males who were HIV positive

Hatzenbuehler and team gathered data on 1,211 patients from a community-based health clinic in Massachusetts that specialized in sexual minorities. After the state approved the same-sex marriage law, they examined the clinic’s billing records and found that the following conditions, all stress-related, became considerably less frequent – high blood pressure (hypertension), depression and adjustment disorders.

Dr. Hatzenbuehler said:

“These findings suggest that marriage equality may produce broad public health benefits by reducing the occurrence of stress-related health conditions in gay and bisexual men.”

The authors explained that prior studies had indicated that not allowing same sex marriages resulted in more stress for gay and bisexual people. They added that this new study is the first to determine what impact same-sex marriage policies might have on healthcare usage and expenditure among gay and bisexual males.

As there were not enough lesbians visiting the clinic, they could not include this group of people in their study.

Dr. Hatzenbuehler said:

“This research makes important contributions to a growing body of evidence on the social, economic, and health benefits of marriage equality.”

Written by Christian Nordqvist