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Wisconsin sees more health insurance availability for same-sex couples

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Heather Robinson
Wisconsin sees more health insurance availability for same-sex couples
Wisconsin sees more health insurance availability for same-sex couples

Over the past few years, two of the biggest controversies on a national level have been the health insurance coverage mandate and same-sex marriage. However, as both become more widely accepted on a legal level nationwide, it seems that more is being done to help same-sex couples find reasonably priced plans that will help them afford their health care.

For example, there has been a lot of confusion in Wisconsin over the past several months about the legality of same-sex marriage after a federal judge ruled that the state's ban on it was unconstitutional, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As a consequence of the ongoing court battle, the open enrollment period for many health insurers in the state came and went without those who had same-sex spouses being able to cover their partners on their own plans. But, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from Wisconsin and four other states on the matter earlier this month - essentially giving the final word on the legality debate - insurers had to scramble.

What's the result?
For that reason, it now seems as though a number of insurers in the state will have to open special enrollment periods for same-sex couples who could not legally get coverage just a few months ago, the report said. At least three insurers in the state are now planning new enrollment periods, but doing so cautiously. Christine Witherill, a lawyer with Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corp., the parent company of a Wisconsin insurer, told the newspaper that this was being done in an effort to get everyone covered as quickly as possible. However, the details of these enrollment periods are apparently still being worked out in some cases.

There are other issues that may remain as well, the report said. For instance, it seems that employers who buy their own insurance for workers, or simply pay for most of those medical bills, may not offer new enrollment periods themselves. Further, those whose insurers aren't giving them this additional time to find coverage might end up having to wait until the next normal open enrollment period.

Health insurers will perhaps want to do more to help keep their clients compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate going forward, because any delays in this regard could end up costing them customers going forward.

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