Open Enrollment November 1 - December 15, 2019

Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Will Help The ACA

Supreme Court rules gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states

On June 25th, the justices ruled 5-4, in favor of gay marriage, with Justice Anthony Kennedy casting the swing vote. This case, officially titled Obergefell v. Hodges, was named after lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell filed suit because he wasn’t allowed to put his name on his late husband’s death certificate. President Obama said that this decision “affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts…Today, we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect.”

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How this benefits the ACA

ACA enrollment numbers are now expected to increase as same-sex marriages will now trigger a “life event.” These special events allow individuals to enroll in Obamacare health insurance outside of the Open Enrollment period and still receive the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act, such as valuable cost-savings subsidies to help lower the cost of their monthly insurance bill. The millions of potential and existing enrollees will need to purchase new health insurance coverage, which can only benefit the healthcare law’s long-term stability.

Even before the latest ruling, the ACA has made remarkable strides in equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Research suggests that the LGBT community has long been discriminated against by the healthcare system. For example, research shows that this community is affected by chronic disease (i.e., cancer, diabetes) at a higher rate than other Americans.

But thanks to the ACA, LGBT access to health coverage has been improved. Significant progress has also been made in eliminating insurance company abuses against this community. The ACA federal exchange (also known as the marketplace) states that for coverage starting in 2015, insurance companies must provide coverage for the LGBT community. This includes enrollees without access to coverage through a domestic partner or employer and those with pre-existing health conditions.

The marketplace requires insurers to provide the same coverage to opposite-sex and same-sex spouses, regardless of: the state where the couple lives; the insurance company’s location; or where the plan is sold, issued, renewed or in effect. Couples married in a jurisdiction with legal authority to authorize the marriage cannot be discriminated against by insurance companies. This includes when they apply for premium tax subsides that lower out-of-pocket costs on insurance plans. Couples may qualify for premium tax credits on ACA-compliant plans as long as the taxpayer and spouse file a joint federal tax return for the year they’re getting coverage. Married couples must file jointly to qualify for tax credits, regardless of gender.

After decades of legal wrangling and frustration, President Obama announced the ruling “will strengthen all of our communities” by offering dignity and equal status to all same-sex couples and their families. The president calls the ruling “a victory for America.”

Americans can start enrolling for the 2016 Enrollment Period on November 1st, 2015. Those that need coverage before then should consider short-term insurance until Open Enrollment begins.

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