HHS: Insurers Must Cover Same-Sex Couples

Federal regulators say insurance companies must treat same-sex couples the same as opposite-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage supporters wave a rainbow flag in front of the US Supreme Court on March 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court on Tuesday takes up the emotionally charged issue of gay marriage as it considers arguments that it should make history and extend equal rights to same-sex couples. Waving US and rainbow flags, hundreds of gay marriage supporters braved the cold to rally outside the court along with a smaller group of opponents, some pushing strollers. Some slept outside in hopes of witnessing the historic hearing. 
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Sam Baker
March 14, 2014, 9:09 a.m.

In­sur­ance com­pan­ies can’t deny cov­er­age to same-sex couples who buy their own policies, the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment said Fri­day.

In a cla­ri­fic­a­tion for in­sur­ance com­pan­ies, HHS said car­ri­ers in the in­di­vidu­al mar­ket — the mar­ket for people who don’t get cov­er­age through an em­ploy­er — must treat op­pos­ite-sex and same-sex mar­riages the same.

So, if an in­surer cov­ers mar­ried op­pos­ite-sex couples un­der fam­ily plans, the same op­tion must be avail­able to same-sex couples.

“In oth­er words, in­sur­ance com­pan­ies will not be per­mit­ted to dis­crim­in­ate against mar­ried same-sex couples when of­fer­ing cov­er­age,” HHS said. “This will fur­ther en­hance ac­cess to health care for all Amer­ic­ans, in­clud­ing those with same-sex spouses.”

The re­quire­ment takes ef­fect in 2015 and ap­plies to the en­tire in­di­vidu­al mar­ket, in­clud­ing plans sold on Obama­care’s new ex­changes, HHS said.

An Ohio couple sued the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment last month after their in­surer said they could not buy cov­er­age as a fam­ily be­cause Ohio does not re­cog­nize same-sex mar­riage.


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