Will a legally married same-sex couple be able to buy a family health insurance policy on the federal exchanges if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage?
Absolutely. Any insurers that participate in the Obamacare exchanges must offer coverage to same-sex married couples. That’s what the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced recently.
Coverage canceled, enrollment denied
This announcement comes on the heels of a lawsuit that was filed by a same-sex couple on Feb. 18 who reside in Ohio. According to the suit, the couple — Alfred Cowger Jr. and Anthony Wesley Jr. — attempted to purchase a family policy through the federal exchange marketplace but were denied because Ohio doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
The couple, who have a seven-year-old daughter, said they had been insured through WellPoint Inc.’s Anthem brand for 15 years until the plan was canceled last year.
According to the couple, their provider notified them their policy was being canceled because it didn’t comply with certain health reform requirements. That prompted the couple to attempt to enroll on the exchange.
‘Not permitted to discriminate’
The lawsuit seemed to have spurred a very direct response by the HHS.
According to Matthew Heinz, the director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual outreach at HHS (for insurers operating on the federal Obamacare exchanges):
“Insurance companies will not be permitted to discriminate against married same-sex couples when offering coverage. This will further enhance access to health care for all Americans, including those with same-sex spouses.”
As of March 1, the feds say around 4.2 million Americans have enrolled in plans offered through the exchanges created under the healthcare reform law.