“It’s not easy being gay,” says director of the Ohio Department of Insurance
Posted on May 8, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
“It’s not easy being gay,” said Mary Jo Hudson, director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. She wasn’t referring to political opposition and other obstacles, but the plight of same-sex couples who are trying to get and keep health insurance.
“You’ve got to go through a lot of hoops,” said Ms. Hudson, who is openly gay and has lived with her partner for eight years.
Same-sex couples have been making headlines; Maine followed the lead of Iowa and Vermont this week in legalizing same-sex marriage, and several other state legislatures are now considering it. But Ms. Hudson says that fairer and more comprehensive health care coverage for partners — whether they are legally married or not — is not necessarily part of the package.
“For the vast majority of gay couples,” she said, “getting health insurance for a domestic partner is still a challenge.”
Currently about one-third of companies with more than 500 employees offer domestic partner benefits. That’s up from about 12 percent in 2000, according to a study from Mercer, an employee benefits consulting firm. But the percentage drops off sharply when smaller employers are counted, Ms. Hudson said.
And there is no provision for domestic partner benefits for federal employees, although there are some legislative efforts to change that. Some states and municipalities offer their employees domestic partner coverage, depending on the state laws.
Even if the relationship is formalized with the state in a marriage or union, that does not always obligate the employer to cover a same-sex spouse. For one thing, self-insured employers are not regulated by the states. See Patient Money For Gay Couples, Obstacles to Health Insurance
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