Court’s Ruling On Gay Marriage Has Insurance Implications
|By Matthew Sturdevant, The Hartford Courant|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
A person in a same-sex marriage who has health insurance through an employer and provides coverage to a spouse will no longer be taxed for the employer's contribution to that spouse's health coverage --one of several examples of how same-sex marriages will benefit financially and otherwise by having the same federal recognition as a marriage between a woman and man.
The ruling changes how people will shop on health insurance exchanges this fall as part of federal health care reform, sometimes called Obamacare.
As part of federal health care reform, people can qualify for federal subsidies as individuals or families when they buy health insurance on a public exchange, which is an online marketplace for health coverage.
Separately, the ruling opens up eligibility for
Many questions remain about the decision's affect on more than 1,000 federal laws that mention "marriage" or "spouse."
For example, if a couple is legally married in one of the 12 states that has gay marriage, will health insurance benefits apply if they move to a state that doesn't allow gay marriage?
It's also not clear when the law takes effect and whether it will be retroactive with regard to the taxes. If a person in a same-sex marriage has a portion of his paycheck withheld because the employer-funded portion of health coverage for his partner is taxable, at what point will the health benefits be tax free as they are for an opposite-sex couple?
"I suspect the phones are going to start ringing now," Veltri said. "For all those reasons, guidance [from federal officials] is really critical."
It's not just health insurance. The court's decision also affects retirement plans and annuities.
For example, annuities will be less complicated.
The ruling removes a conflict between federal tax law and state laws in states where same-sex marriage is legal, said
"This comes into play for issues such as determining the timing of when a beneficiary will be taxed on benefits he receives upon the death of the spouse,"
Already on Wednesday, some federal agencies clarified that a person in a same-sex marriage will be entitled to the same benefits as a person in a marriage between a man and woman.
Among those federal agencies is the
"The [defense] department will immediately begin the process of implementing the
"The benefit to
The property-casualty industry of auto and home insurers isn't affected by the ruling, said
"Sexual orientation is not an underwriting factor and insurers have long since, for many many years, issued policies to couples that are same-sex, opposite-sex, to people that are roommates, to inter-generational relationships and this will continue," Hartwig said.
A number of cities and businesses signed an amicus brief in the
Among the municipalities, financial institutions, medical centers, health care providers, energy companies, insurers and other companies that signed the amicus brief are the city of
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