Blue Cross to offer gay N.C. couples family policies

Big news for same-sex couples in North Carolina. North Carolina’s largest health insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC has decided to reverse a systematic decision that took affect in mid-January. The decision lead to the cancellation of 20 policies for customers who were same-sex couples. After much embarassment, the company’s CEO issued a public apology. Along with the apology Blue Cross’ CEO also admitted that the company should have given more thought and consideration before making the decision to cancel policies. Blue Cross actually provides coverage to same-sex couples for their own employees and most consider the company to be “gay friendly.”

Despite consulting NC state officals regarding the cancellation of the health insurance policies; Blue Cross was still in violation of the Affordable Care Act. The cancellation of the insurance policies is considered illegal under guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to HHS insurance companies can’t deny coverage to same-sex couples under the Affordable Care Act. Based on the the new laws in the Affordable Care Act there are several nondiscrimination provisions in place for any insurance company that offers coverage through the federal insurance marketplace. Some of the provisions cover things specific things such as nondiscrimination of consumers based on gender identy or sexual orientation.  Blue Cross to offer gay N.C. couples family policies – Local News. Blue Cross stated that their rationale for cancelling the policies was due to advice from the NC Department of Insurance, which defined marriege as a couple of the opposite sex. However the NC Department of Insurance stated that the agency had approved an amendment to it’s policies last year that would have resolved this issue and added that all Blue Cross had to do was file an amendment instead of cancelling the policies.

According to Blue Cross any policies that were cancelled will be restored retroactively. Any new same- sex couples who want to purchase health insurance will be able to buy family coverage which will be effective as of March 1, 2014. However for many couples this news comes a little late. Many couples have already purchased seperate policies due to the fact that they were not allowed to purchase family coverage with Blue Cross. Which leaves them wondering how their situation can be “fixed” at this point.

Blue Cross has also decided it will offer coverage to unmarried couples and small businesses for the first time. It seems like Blue Cross has learned a hard lesson.However it also seems like they are taking the necessary steps to resolve the mess they have made. Hopefully other insurance companies will learn from the mistake that Blue Cross made and won’t follow down the same path. It is difficult enough to find affordable healthcare coverage and navigate all the various options. There’s no need to add additional obstacles to the process.

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