In the beginning of the year, a new mandate directed insurance companies offering health coverage to opposite sex couples to make available the same options for same-sex, married couples. Since the decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court clearly grants the legal rights for LGBT couples to marry, this is yet another step in the right direction. For many years, such couples were faced with difficult health coverage decisions, only with options that were typically quite expensive.
The rising costs of healthcare and insurance coverage come after decades of dynamic shifts, away from one-on-one care. Health insurance is very complicated, to say the least, but now, having equal access means having greater access to more choice. One example, and one of the most important components, is the fact the same-sex couples are now able to add their legally married partners. In addition, insurance companies are not allowed to deny coverage based on sexual orientation.
Health Insurance for Same-Sex Married Couples
The mandate does far more than just grant rights and protections to LGBT couples, it also helps to strengthen the workforce. For instance, some of the largest corporations are opting to keep their domestic partner health coverage, put in place when same-sex couples were not provided with the legal rights of heterosexual couples. The reason is simple, it distinguishes them from competitors as a recruiting tool, and, it acts to retain talent. On the other hand, for companies choosing to resist the changes, legal challenges and civil actions will be likely results.
“Since last year, 34 of the 500 biggest U.S. public companies have started the coverage, bringing the total up to 210, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay and lesbian lobbying group. In addition, the group counts 6,811 privately owned companies that now offer domestic partner benefits either to same-sex couples or to both same-sex and opposite-sex (unmarried, heterosexual) couples.” —ABC News
Under the new guidelines, married, same-sex couples can receive coverage regardless if of the state in which they reside, where the insurance company is principally located, or, in which state the plan is sold, issued, renewed, or in effect. What’s more, in all states, new rules give premium tax credits and lower out-of-pocket costs on private insurance plans to same-sex couples.
For those married couples who file jointly, even more tax advantages are available, which include access to premium tax credits. These are in-place to significantly lower the cost of health care coverage, regardless of sexual orientation. All of this can provide substantial benefits for LGBT individuals suffering from long term conditions and ailments.
In addition to these positive changes, also included is increased access to healthcare insurance coverage for children of same-sex couples. This allows a less cumbersome approach to providing coverage for minor children of married couples. This is true regardless if a child or children are adopted.
It’s important to note that these changes are not just resigned to federal law or reside solely at the federal level. Because it supersedes state law, state-conferred benefits for spouses will extend to same-sex spouses. While there might be constitutional challenges at the state levels, those will face a decided uphill battle. More choices will become available as insurers are too, given more access to an unfettered consumer base.