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9/22/11 - Effective July 24, 2011, a new law enacted in New York allows for same-sex couples to legally marry. The Marriage Equality Act provides that in the state of New York, marriage is a fundamental human right and, therefore, same-sex couples should have the same access as others to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits of civil marriage. Marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples must be treated equally in all respects under the law. What does this mean for your New York policy clients? For health insurance coverage, this means if different-sex couples are covered under the plan, same-sex couples must also be covered as a subscriber and spouse—and their children as dependents.

The New York Department of Insurance already required carriers in New York to recognize same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions that allow such. This new law makes New York one of those states and, therefore, same-sex marriage is a qualifying event under a New York policy. This applies to all fully insured, ASO – non ERISA, and individual plan members. ASO groups should consult their own legal counsel. UnitedHealthcare and Oxford commercial plans already are in compliance so there is no impact to our clients or their employees.