Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The New Marriage Paradigm

Another recent decision by the Supreme Court confirms that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states.  While at first we may not think this has much to do with healthcare, it is a giant leap toward providing same-sex couples equal protection under healthcare laws.

For example, starting in 2015, all health insurance companies that offer healthcare coverage to opposite-sex spouses must also do so for same-sex spouses.  In addition, this ruling ensures that if a same-sex couple will be filing jointly (as married), they qualify for the same tax credits as those with opposite-sex spouses.  Finally, the Supreme Court decision affirms that couples cannot be discriminated against in healthcare settings based on their marital status.

According to some sources, this new ruling means that some companies will drop “domestic partner” as an option on most healthcare insurance plans, meaning that to obtain benefits, a couple must be married.  This could be a problem for the many Americans who have a long-term partner, but have decided not to marry.  In addition, there are many states who are forced to recognize same-sex marriage, but do not have anti-discrimination laws regarding sexual preference.  This could prove problematic for those who wish to have a partner, but not make it public via a public-record marriage license.

All in all, this new ruling will certainly be tested and reviewed as states, and the public, adjust to this new paradigm.

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Written by: Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP


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