From the Washington Blade…
The Obama administration clarified on Friday that insurers are prohibited from discriminating against same-sex marriages for the purposes of non-grandfathered family coverage — even if applicants are applying in non-marriage equality states. In guidance dated March 14, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid says existing provisions in the health care reform law prohibiting discrimination by insurers on the basis of gender — which the Obama administration has interpreted to extend non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity — also requires insurers not to refuse family coverage for married same-sex couples.
The guidance is set up as Q&A. The question is “If a health insurance issuer in the group or individual market offers coverage of an opposite-sex spouse, may the issuer refuse to offer coverage of a same-sex spouse?” The response starts off simply, “No.”
“This section prohibits an issuer from choosing to decline to offer to a plan sponsor (or individual in the individual market) the option to cover same-sex spouses under the coverage on the same terms and conditions as opposite sex-spouses,” the guidance states. Alicia Hartinger, a CMS spokesperson, said the guidance spells out that non-discrimination is the rule for insurers — both on and off the health insurance exchanges — when selling policies.
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