New health insurance rights for same-sex couples

Obama administration expands benefits, urges insurers to voluntarily comply
Associated Press
Mar 14, 2014

Acting to expand health insurance access for same-sex couples, the Obama administration said Friday that plans offering benefits for heterosexual couples must also provide coverage for married couples who are of the same gender.

The policy, posted online by the Department of Health and Human Services, takes effect next year and applies to plans offered in the health care law's new insurance markets. It also covers many — but not all — individual and employer plans offered outside that marketplace.

The administration acted after gays and lesbians complained that they're not sure how the rules of the new insurance exchanges apply to them — particularly in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.

The department said it was moving to clarify those rules and make coverage "more accessible and equitable for married same-sex couples." It's part of a government-wide effort to codify the rights of same-sex spouses following the Supreme Court's decision last year striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and opening the way for same-sex spouses to receive government benefits.

The new HHS policy says that if an insurance company offers spousal coverage to heterosexual couples, it must also provide that benefit to same-sex couples who were legally married in a jurisdiction that recognizes marriage between people of the same sex.

The administration is urging insurers to voluntarily comply with the same-sex rule right away. It will be a requirement for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015, or later.

Many large employer plans are already operating under similar rules issued last fall by the Labor Department. These are so-called self-insured plans in which an employer sets aside its own money to cover most of the expected medical costs of workers. Self-insured employers generally hire an insurance company to administer their benefit plan.

The new HHS rules apply instead to plans that are sold directly by insurance companies to individuals and employers, usually small to mid-sized companies.

There are exceptions:

• "Grandfathered" plans that were in existence when the health law passed four years ago and have changed very little since then do not have to offer coverage to same-sex spouses. Those plans, however, represent a dwindling share of the market.

• The new policy does not apply to Medicaid coverage for low-income people. The administration encourages states to offer Medicaid benefits to same-sex spouses, but state authorities have the final say.

Separately, HHS issued another one-month extension for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, known as PCIP. Patients in the temporary program will now have until April 30 to find a new policy. PCIP was created as a transitional program for people turned down for coverage because of health problems. The law now requires insurers to take all applicants regardless of their medical history.

Comments

thinkagain

The human body has a specific design and function.

Homosexuality is against this God given nature. They are abusing their natures, misusing their bodies (1 Cor. 6:9)

Homosexuality is a state that a person degenerates into. (Romans 1:18-32)

The Big Dog's back

Hmmmmm. Thou protest to much.

44846GWP

Agree, he has some real issues. Being a bigot is just one.

deertracker

I see the resident preacher is up and about!

ladydye_5

Do you have an original thought of your own without the bible telling you what to think? Can you say anything with out a bible verse as reference?

deertracker

The answer to that would be a big fat NO!

coasterfan

Thinkagain: the human body was also not designed so that people can use a 2000-year-old book as an excuse to practice e discrimination.

The Bible was written before the Age of Science, by people who thought the world was flat, and who thought the sun actually rose and set in the sky each day. These were people who had literally no understanding of the natural world and the way things actually work. In that respect, they were just like you are: completely clueless.

deertracker

Completely CLUELESS!

From the Grave

This article is about health care policies, not the bible.

JohnDorian12

I'm with you 110% but you're gonna get slaughtered on here by the rainbows....

thinkagain

Thanks, it’s nice to see a little support. But don’t worry about me, I’ve been a Christian for some time now and I’m used to intolerant, hateful, Christophobic people. Do you notice how those commentators of the party of “tolerance” are the most intolerant? Typical liberal hypocrisy.

FSM

If you try to back up your stance with the bible you lose by default

coasterfan

I love you, Flying Spaghetti Monster!!! Thank you for blessing us with your noodly goodness!! You are correct. You can't use the Bible to prove the validity of the Bible.

FSM

rAMEN

O Really

I could care less if you dig guys or chicks or both...... As long as my tax dollars aren't paying for their healthcare, let them share !!!!

deertracker

You are in the lead for stupidest comment of the day!

CAST THE FIRST STONE

always about the 2 percent..original crap to divert from the real crisis in the usa....over taxed

coasterfan

Oh baloney. We are taxed at historically low rates. In the 1950's, the highest tax rate was more than 90%. Today, it's less than 40%. Either you don't understand math, or you don't understand history.

KnuckleDragger

If you don't think you are taxed enough than by all means feel free to right a larger check to the IRS voluntarily. They will gladly accept it.

Contango

Re: "the 1950's, the highest tax rate was more than 90%"

Less than half the story.

With deductions and tax shelters, NO ONE with even a half-*ssed accountant paid that marginal rate.

Not surprised; based on your comments about your Fidelity investments, you're kinda lousy with numbers.

CAST THE FIRST STONE

follow a single dollar you make starting with fed tax,state tax,when you buy gas tax,when you pay property tax, when you pay tax at almost place every time you buy something with that dollar and see what you have left.

downthemiddle

Then try leaving it to your kids.

worddrow811

Maybe if everyone stopped thinking 'me' and started thinking 'we', we could change the world by making sure we care for others. There is enough and why aren't we willing to share?

coasterfan

Love your comments, readings signs. You pretty much spelled the difference between Democrats (who think of We) and Republicans (who think of Me)

O Really

Spoken like a "we" who receives some of the taxes money "me" pays in......."me" don't think its fair that the "we's" of the world get things handed to them while sitting on "we" a$$ & "me" goes to work then pays extra for "me" healthcare. I guess that's the difference between people that work & Obama supporters

worddrow811

O Really, perhaps therein lies the problem. Blaming one's life circumstances on others not being fair sets one up for failure.

For example, is it fair for a person who has a snow-thrower to only clean their sidewalks while ignoring others who are elderly and may need help? No, it's a sign of a selfish, me only, person. Do I expect anyone to shovel for me? No, but if they do, it's a sign of their kindness in thinking about others.

It has nothing to do with a political party, money or color of their skin. It has everything to do with who they are as a human being, of which we are all one.

What we do to another, we do to ourselves. What we do for another, we do for ourselves.

whattheBucks

But where also lies the problem, is why should I go get a snowblower when I know my neighbor has one and I know that when it snows a lot I can look out my window from my own warm house and know that my nice neighbor not only did his driveway, but also did mine for me and my six kids with no daddy, AND our elderly neighbors too ... Now I know that me and all my kids could have gone out and did the elderly neighbors drive in no time whatsoever to help the guy with the really nice snowblower who just got home from work after working a 10 hour shift all night, but dang...why should I do that when that neighbor has that really nice blower that he worked so hard to get ?? and then I think in the back of my head, boy I hope he has a nice lawnmower too !!

worddrow811

Thank you for describing what expectation is. I have no expectations because that leads to disappointments. I do, however, have hopes that people will stop being so hateful to each other unless there is some benefit to them.

There are only two types of people and they are, 'those who say what's in it for me?' and those who say 'what would love do now?'

The first type is self-serving and the second type isn't.

Those who keep labeling people and deciding what they should or shouldn't get, fail to understand that it's not about who gets what. Babies don't come here with hate-filled hearts, they are taught to be hateful. Every one of us is someones child, parent, brother or sister.

How do you justify not being kind?

KnuckleDragger

So tells us, how much do you expect other people to do for you when you are an able bodied adult? Helping people who can't help themselves is a noble cause. However, helping people who are capable of helping themselves only perpetuates the problem.

worddrow811

I don't expect anyone to help me and that wasn't my point. If I can't do it, I hire someone and pay them for their time.

Here's another example for those who don't get it yet. Two people are walking towards the same door and one opens it for the other. The person who walks through the held-open door doesn't say thank you to the door-holder. The door-holder gets bent out of shape because, after all, they did something nice and expected a thank you. So, did the door-holder do it as a statement of who they are or because they expected a thank you? If one is doing it as a statement of who they are, no thanks are needed. If they did it expecting a thank you, didn't get one and got mad, that was about them and their need for approval. Are we clear yet? The person who didn't say thank you, expecting the door to be opened for them, was making a statement of who they are not.

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