Same-Sex Marriage and Employee Benefits

With the Supreme Court’s ruling making same-sex marriage legal, the LGBT community may encounter some changes to their health insurance. Here’s a short guide to what to look out for.

Simplified benefits administration for the employer

Since both the employee and their spouse will now be treated equally to an opposite-sex couple, the uniformity makes tailoring a plan a lot simpler. The consistency across all states will also make things easier, as the employer won’t have to apply different plans to different types of couples in different states of legality.

Public vs private employer choices

Public employers, such as state and local governments, are required to adhere to this ruling and provide coverage for all marriages equally. Private employers, however, could opt out of equal treatment. Also, self-insured employers are protected by ERISA exemptions, which means that they do not have to comply with state or federal laws regarding equal treatment. This will be difficult to maintain for the private employer, however, because of…

More opportunity to claim sex discrimination in the workplace

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently announced that LGBT individuals can claim Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII violations. Employers can face litigation if they fail to provide equally for all marriages, which makes the decision to refuse this equal treatment dangerous.

Domestic partnership will likely lose its footing in the insurance world

Domestic partner benefits came about in the 1990s for the purpose of providing for couples who could not legally marry due to their sex. Now that there is no barrier to marriage, many employers will likely opt out of partnership benefits in favor of spouse benefits. Timing is everything, however, and it would behoove most employers to offer a grace period during which an employee has a chance to tie the knot before their partner is dropped from their plan.

Hopefully these points clear some things up for you, let us know if you have any questions.

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