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Married Gay Couples Can be Covered Under Family Health Plans

By Jeffrey Knipmeyer on April 14, 2014

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that married gay couples will be eligible to enroll in family health coverage under The Affordable Care Act. Although mandatory compliance does not kick in until 2015, the government is encouraging insurers to begin voluntarily offering family plans to married same-sex couples under the Public Health Service Act this year.

This is important news for same-sex couples in Illinois who are now legally eligible to marry.

HHS deemed that it would be discriminatory for health insurers to offer family health coverage to opposite-sex couples, but not to same-sex couples. The government department has jurisdiction when it comes to preventing insurance discrimination practices in the market.

Dr. Matthew Heinz, who heads HHS outreach to gay, lesbian, transsexual, and bisexual communities said in a posting on a government website, “If an insurance company offers coverage to opposite-sex spouses, it cannot choose to deny that coverage to same-sex spouses. In other words, insurance companies will not be permitted to discriminate against married same-sex couples when offering coverage.”

The announcement follows in the wake of a February lawsuit filed by a gay couple who were legally married in New York, but were denied family health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The couple had moved to Ohio where same-sex marriages are not recognized. The suit claims that the U.S. government and the state of Ohio violated the couple’s constitutional rights by refusing to acknowledge their married status and preventing them from enrolling in a family health plan under the Affordable Care Act.

Ultimately, the couple was forced to purchase individual healthcare policies for themselves and their adopted daughter.

With same-sex marriage now legal in Illinois, the law firm of Nottage & Ward in Chicago will constantly be looking for changing laws and announcements that affect married same-sex couples’ legal rights. If you have questions concerning any aspect of family law, whether it be same-sex or opposite-sex marriage, divorce, or child support, please call us at (312) 332-2915 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.

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