Health insurance inequities could be corrected by Supreme Court ruling

Same Sex health Insurance
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Same Sex health InsuranceMany are hoping that the decision will help to change the coverage system in for same sex married couples.

Supporters of a decision by the Supreme Court to void the Defense of Marriage Act are saying that it could help to eliminate inequities that have been occurring in health insurance benefits, COBRA coverage, and taxation, among other areas.

Though the coverage has been possible for same sex couples in some states, it still comes with a cost.

For example, there are couples in Vermont who have been married since the legalization of same sex marriages in the state, three years ago. Since that time, that would make spouses eligible for health insurance through an employer. However, at the same time, the coverage has led to tax and filing related expenses on the federal level due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the way that it fails to recognize same sex spouses.

This means that tax must be paid by same sex spouses on the health insurance coverage through an employer plan.

The Williams Institute and the Center for American Progress – two think tanks – have issued a report which shows the result of gender identity and sexual orientation research and that has focused on coverage issue. What it showed was that an employee who purchases health insurance coverage for a same sex domestic partner pays an average of $1,069 more per year in federal taxes than a similar individual in a heterosexual marriage and who has the same coverage.

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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in March regarding the constitutionality of DOMA and supporters of its elimination are hoping that this will help to change the inequalities in the amount that is being paid for health insurance – directly or indirectly through taxation.

Should DOMA be deemed unconstitutional, there is the possibility that a number of considerable barriers faced by same sex married couples for healthcare and health insurance will be eliminated. Though the federal tax is the most obvious issue, there are a number of others that have been identified, such as the federal law (COBRA) that protects employees and their families from losing their coverage but that don’t currently apply to same sex married couples.

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