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A Supreme Court ruling June 26, 2015, declared same-sex marriage a right in all 50 states.1,2 Now that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, married same-sex couples have access to the same legal rights and benefits as all married couples, and their marriages will be recognized on birth certificates, death certificates and other official documents.
But what does it mean in terms of health insurance?
The Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling does not require employers to offer health insurance coverage to same-sex spouses, as one benefits lawyer explained to NPR.3
However, due to existing state laws, federal law prohibiting sex discrimination, and company policies, same-sex spouses will likely gain greater access to health benefits as a result of the ruling. And, as explained by the Kaiser Family Foundation, many experts believe that private employers that limit spousal coverage to opposite-sex spouses would likely be found in violation of federal Civil Rights law.4
By law, all legally married same-sex partners that are federal employees, federal contractors, members of the military, veterans and state employees have access to spousal benefits.5
As of Jan. 1, 2015, health insurance companies that offer major medical health insurance coverage to opposite-sex spouses must also make the same coverage available to same-sex spouses.6
If couples are legally married, insurance companies cannot discriminate against them. This applies regardless of the state where the couple lives; where the insurance company is located; and where the plan is sold, issued, renewed or in effect.7
As with heterosexual married couples, if a married same-sex couple buys a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace and files a joint federal tax return for that year, they may be eligible for income-based premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.8
Many supplemental health plans also offer coverage to same-sex married couples. Health eDeals’ supplemental plans, including dental insurance, critical illness, telemedicine and gap plans, as well as temporary coverage in the form of short term health insurance, are all available to same-sex married couples.
Find supplemental plans for you and your partner at healthedeals.com.
1 Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide.” The New York Times. June 26, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0
2 Please note that the Supreme Court ruling may not apply to recognized Native American tribal jurisdictions; these are sovereign nations with the powers to govern themselves and establish their own laws. Many tribal nations do not address the recognition of marriage, or other relationships, between same sex couples. If you have questions about the laws of a particular tribe, check with that tribal government. http://www.refinery29.com/2015/07/90531/native-american-tribes-same-sex-marriage; http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/handful-of-holdout-tribes-dig-in-against-gay-marriage/; http://www.nclrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Relationship_Recognition.pdf at p. 23
3 Hancock, Jay. “Supreme Court’s Decision on Same-Sex Marriage Expected to Boost Health Coverage.” June 29, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/29/418520819/supreme-courts-decision-on-same-sex-marriage-expected-to-boost-health-coverage
4 The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. “Health Reform FAQ: Non-Traditional Households.” http://kff.org/health-reform/faq/health-reform-frequently-asked-questions/#section-non-traditional-households
6 Prior to the Supreme Court ruling this applied only to same-sex couples married in a jurisdiction that legally authorized the marriage. HealthCare.gov. “Same-Sex Married Couples.” https://www.healthcare.gov/married-same-sex-couples-and-the-marketplace/