Insurers participating in Obamacare must cover same-sex married couples as families, the U.S. government said.
The Obama administration is seeking to maximize insurance coverage ahead of a March 31 deadline to sign up for private plans offered through the new exchanges created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. About 4.2 million Americans enrolled in the plans through March 1, according to the government.
A married gay couple in Ohio sued the state and federal government on Feb. 18 after they tried to buy a family policy through the federal health insurance exchange and were denied because Ohio doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, according to their complaint. Insurers offering family policies to a person with an opposite-sex spouse must also sell to someone whose spouse is of the same sex, regardless of whether the marriage is recognized by their state government, the Department of Health and Human Services said today.
“Insurance companies will not be permitted to discriminate against married same-sex couples when offering coverage,” Matthew Heinz, the director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual outreach at HHS, said in a blog post. “This will further enhance access to health care for all Americans, including those with same-sex spouses.”
There were about 114,000 married same-sex couples in the U.S. in 2011, according to the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law’s Williams Institute, which studies sexual orientation legal issues and public policy.
The Ohio couple, Alfred Cowger Jr. and Anthony Wesley Jr., have been together for 28 years and have a 7-year-old daughter, Bloomberg BNA reported. They were married in New York in 2012.
The couple said they had been insured as a family for the past 15 years. Last year their insurer, WellPoint Inc.’s Anthem brand, notified them their policy would be canceled because it didn’t comply with some requirements of the health law known as Obamacare, forcing them to seek new coverage.
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