Thursday, July 09, 2015

Gay Ol' Time Redux

Two years ago, we reported on this SSM (same sex marriage) health insurance wrinkle:

"I got a call today from a woman who needed to find new coverage. She had been covered by her same sex partner as a domestic partner, but since Maryland passed gay marriage, she's now been told that she can no longer stay on the policy unless they get married. She was not happy with this turn of events"

Well that was then, and this is now, and post-Obergefell SSM is the law of the land. So, what does this new regime portend for health insurance, specifically for same sex couples?

From email I received this morning from United Healthcare:

"Employers who offer health coverage for spouses will now be required to provide coverage to same-sex spouses if they aren’t already."

It's not entirely clear whether this will entail the same consequences noted in the 2013 post:
"What if an employer group wants to remove domestic partnership coverage?
If the state law allows, we will make the change at renewal."
So it may be that non-married same sex couples can keep their group coverage intact. I suspect that we'll see a flurry of states enacting laws to clarify this, and carriers reacting to these changes.

Plus, this email specifically addresses Employer Sponsored Insurance (ESI) plans; it's not clear how the individual market will finally resolve the issue. One supposes that it will be generally the same as group.

Which then brings up an interesting point: many unmarried hetero couples currently living together have one partner on the other's insurance plan. If carriers can require same sex couples to be married to enjoy that benefit, why wouldn't that also apply to hetero couples? One suspects a lot of these folks will be plum outta luck.
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