A Supreme Court ruling June 26, 2015, declared same-sex marriage a right in all 50 states.12 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
Individual health plans and same-sex married couples
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
What about Obamacare subsidies for married same-sex couples?
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
Same-sex marriage health insurance coverage beyond major medical
Many supplemental health plans also offer coverage to same-sex married couples. Supplemental plans like dental insurance and medical gap insurance, and insurance add-ons like telemedicine, as well as temporary coverage in the form of short-term health insurance, are all available to same-sex married couples.