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.
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