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HHS issues guidelines regarding health plans and same-sex couples

Same-sex couples who got married in a state in which same-sex marriages are legal but who live in a state that does not recognize such marriages as valid generally don't have access to the same sorts of things that heterosexual married couples do.

One area in which same-sex couples in such situations have sometimes found this to be the case is the area of health insurance. Some recent federal guidelines are aimed at changing this.

The new guidelines were issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and they apply to group and individual health plans that were not in place prior to the recent federal health law or that were not grandfathered in under this law. The new guidelines require that any sort of spousal coverage that such plans make available to heterosexual married couples also be made available to same-sex couples who have gotten married in a state where such marriages are legal, regardless of where the same-sex couple now lives. One point to note is that this requirement for equal spousal coverage opportunities does not apply to same-sex couples who are in civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Insurers have until Jan. 1, 2015 to come into compliance with the guidelines.

What are your thoughts on the new guidelines? What impacts do you think they will have for same-sex couples here in Texas and in other parts of the U.S.? Do you think there will be any resistance to the new guidelines from states or insurers?

Source: npr.org, "Gay Couples Entitled To Equal Family Health Coverage, Fed Says," Michelle Andrews, March 15, 2014

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