Blue Links for Employers

Keeping You Informed about the Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

In light of the Supreme Court's June 26, 2015, ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts wants to keep our accounts informed of the impact this ruling may have on their plans. One immediate impact is that we are offering to accounts a 90-day special open enrollment period, from June 26, 2015, through September 25, 2015, for same-sex couples who:

  • were legally-married in one state;
  • lived in another state that did not recognize the marriage; and
  • were unable to enroll the subscriber's spouse in his or her health and dental plans.

Keeping You Informed about the Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that:
"Same-sex couples can exercise their fundamental right to marry in all states. There is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character."

How does this ruling affect or change health and dental coverage I offer employees?

  • If your plan currently includes standard eligibility for legal spouses, then nothing changes in your benefit design. It's just that same-sex couples are now able to marry legally in all 50 states and a subscriber's same-sex spouse can enroll as a legal spouse in any state. Standard enrollment rules related to marriage as a qualifying event apply. In addition, standard plans will continue to offer eligibility to individuals in a civil union and, if you offer the rider, plans will provide eligibility for domestic partners.
  • If your plan currently excludes standard eligibility for same-sex legally-married spouses, you should check with your legal counsel to determine what action you should take regarding this exclusion from their medical and dental plans. The standard Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts plan designs include coverage for a subscriber's spouse in a legal marriage. If you choose a nonstandard plan design in which your group continues to exclude coverage of same-sex spouses in a legal marriage, we ask you to sign a new addendum to your Administrative Services Contract (ASC) account agreement.

Are you offering a special open enrollment period for those previously married same-sex spouses who were unable to enroll in the plan?
In light of the Supreme Court ruling, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is offering to accounts a 90-day special open enrollment period, from June 26, 2015, through September 25, 2015, for same-sex couples who:

  • were legally-married in one state;
  • lived in another state that did not recognize the marriage; and
  • were unable to enroll the subscriber's spouse in his or her health and dental plans.

You can determine the effective date (within the 90-day duration of the special open enrollment period) of the same-sex spouses and their dependents. Standard rules regarding dependent coverage will continue to apply.

  • The state income tax treatment of employer-provided benefits could change for same-sex couples that reside in states that did not recognize same-sex marriage prior to the Supreme Court ruling. You should consult with your legal counsel to determine if there are any legal, tax or other implications you need to address
  • Note that in certain instances such an off-anniversary enrollment may result in adverse tax consequences to members or accounts, and we encourage those impacted to seek their own tax counsel. The IRS has yet to release guidance on this same-sex marriage ruling.

How do I add a same-sex spouse to my employees' Blue Cross Plan?
You can add your employees' same-sex spouse using the regular enrollment channels (send in an enrollment form, via BlueLinks, etc).

Questions?
To have all your questions answered, please contact your account executive.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

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