Last year, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill that redefined marriage in Illinois. The historic measure made Illinois the 16th American state to allow same-sex unions.
To address the fact that many states now allow same-sex marriage, the White House recently announced that married same-sex couples will be covered by health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. The federal government clarified that insurers covering heterosexual couples can now offer the same benefits beginning next year.
The new rules will apply to plans available on the federal exchange, including some individual and group plans. Although only 17 states currently allow same-sex marriage, this means millions more same-sex spouses will now have access to the same healthcare coverage as heterosexual married couples.
The Department of Health and Human Service’s director of LGBT outreach said ACA rules prevent insurance companies from discriminating against married same-sex couples when it comes to available health coverage. The Obama administration is now urging insurance companies to begin enrolling same-sex married partners so they will have coverage when the new law takes effect January 1.
Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that the act violated the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits unequal treatment before law. Since then, same-sex partners have been receiving benefits similar to those heterosexual spouses have enjoyed for decades. This indicates that family laws and the federal government continue to strengthen the rights of same-sex couples.
The new federal regulations will certainly benefit married same-sex couples in Illinois and elsewhere in the country. Much like divorce and other family law issues, learning more about the regulations and the new benefits may help same-sex partners be more aware of their rights, learn how to protect their rights and avoid legal challenges in the future.
Source: Medical Daily, “Same-sex Married Couples to be Covered By Obamacare Health Plans,” Matthew Mientka, March 15, 2014