eHealth Answers Questions About Same-Sex Couples and Health Insurance Following
Recent Supreme Court Decisions
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 07/09/13 -- Today eHealth,
Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) (www.ehealthinsurance.com), parent company of
eHealthInsurance, the nation's first and largest private online
health insurance exchange, released answers to questions about the
impact of recent Supreme Court decisions on health insurance options
for same-sex couples.
The Supreme Court of the United States recently declared
unconstitutional Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which
prohibited the federal government from recognizing the legal
marriages of same-sex couples. The court also let stand a lower
court's ruling invalidating California's Proposition 8, which had
prohibited legal same-sex marriages in the state. The following
"Frequently Asked Questions" seek to clarify the impact of these
rulings on the health insurance options of same-sex couples:
FAQ: Same-Sex Couples and Health Insurance Choices
Question: How do the Supreme Court's recent rulings on same-sex
marriage impact the health insurance options of same-sex couples?
Answer: The Supreme Court ruled that the section of the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA) which prohibits the federal government from
recognizing legal same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The full
implications of this ruling still need to be worked out, but it
appears to eliminate restrictions that had previously prevented the
legally married, same-sex spouses of federal employees from
participation in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program,
including the ability to enroll as a dependent in their spouse's
federal health insurance plan.
By effectively overturning California's Proposition 8, the Supreme
Court's other decision opens the door for same-sex marriages to begin
again in the state. The impact of this decision is limited to
California, but it will have no direct effect on access to health
insurance for same-sex partners in the state. California's department
of insurance already required insurers to provide health coverage
both to registered same-sex partners as well as legally married
heterosexual and same-sex couples.
For same-sex couples in which neither partner is employed by the
federal government, or for those living in states where same-sex
marriage is illegal, the Supreme Court's decisions may have little
immediate impact on their health insurance options. Some states
currently require health insurance companies to offer coverage to
same-sex couples, though proof of a legally recognized domestic
partnership may be required; other states make no such requirement,
but insurance companies are free to offer coverage to same-sex
couples if they wish. Employers may also opt to provide group
coverage for same-sex partners of employees, even in states where
there is no state requirement to do so.
Question: How do same-sex partners actually go about obtaining family
health insurance policies together?
Answer: When it comes to purchasing health insurance plans on their
own, same-sex couples can shop for and purchase coverage the same way
as anyone else, regardless of which state they live in. We recommend
that shoppers work with a licensed online health insurance agent,
like eHealthInsurance, or a licensed agent in their local area. At
eHealthInsurance.com, shoppers are able to enter their ZIP code,
gender and date of birth -- along with the gender and date of birth
of their partner -- and review quotes from health insurance plans
that are available to same-sex couples in their area.
Question: What are the benefits of health insurance coverage for
Answer: Clearly, there's a symbolic benefit for many same-sex couples
when they're able to purchase or enroll in a single family health
insurance plan. There are more practical benefits as well. For
example, they will now pay only one monthly premium for health
insurance coverage, and, in states where same-sex marriage is legal,
they will be able to discuss some of their spouse's billing issues
with the insurance company (personal health issues are still
protected by the HIPAA law). Same-sex couples could also potentially
save on deductibles. Having a single deductible for the whole family
may save you money when compared to paying two separate deductibles,
especially when there are dependent children covered under the same
plan. Also, as with married heterosexual partners, the older partner
may enjoy more affordable coverage because rates for a family policy
are based on the younger spouse's age.
Question: Are there any reasons why a same-sex couple may opt NOT to
purchase health insurance together?
Answer: Yes. As with heterosexual couples, premiums for family
coverage may in some cases be more expensive than premiums for two
individual health insurance plans, and one partner's health and
coverage needs may differ significantly from the other's. Same-sex
couples who are interested in purchasing coverage should do the math
and consider all options before applying for coverage.
Additional Consumer Resources:
-- Follow eHealthInsurance's consumer blog, Get Smart - Get Covered
-- Browse our answers to real-life consumer health insurance questions on
Follow eHealthInsurance on Facebook and Twitter
eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) is the parent company
of eHealthInsurance, America's first and largest private health
insurance exchange where individuals, families and small businesses
can compare health insurance products from leading insurers side by
side and purchase and enroll in coverage online. eHealthInsurance
offers thousands of individual, family and small business health
plans underwritten by more than 200 of the nation's leading health
insurance companies. eHealthInsurance is licensed to sell health
insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. eHealth,
Inc. also provides powerful online and pharmacy-based tools to help
seniors navigate Medicare health insurance options, choose the right
plan and enroll in select plans online through its wholly-owned
subsidiary, PlanPrescriber.com (www.planprescriber.com) and through
its Medicare website eHealthMedicare.com (www.eHealthMedicare.com).
For more health insurance news and information, visit the
eHealthInsurance consumer blog: Get Smart - Get Covered.
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