With same-sex marriage now law in Minnesota, the state’s Department of Commerce and Department of Health have issued a joint bulletin to all insurers to provide guidance related to insurance coverage for dependents.
“As one of the next steps towards implementing Minnesota’s new same-sex marriage law, we are providing guidance to insurers to ensure that spouses have dependent insurance coverage offered on the same terms regardless of the sex of the spouse,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “It is important that consumers understand their rights when it comes to spousal coverage, and that insurers and agents provide dependent coverage on terms of equal treatment of all families.”
The agencies explained that the new Minnesota law “means that any policy issued in Minnesota that provides dependent coverage for spouses must make that insurance coverage available to all spouses regardless of their sex.” The guidance issued in the bulletin by the Commerce Department said that although insurance companies may still choose whether its policies provide dependent benefits, the companies cannot define spouse in a way that would limit coverage to opposite-sex spouses. Therefore, it said, policies that prohibit coverage after August 1, 2013 to same-sex partners would violate Minnesota law, which states that insurance companies cannot discriminate based on sex or marital status.
The bulletin stated that insurance companies cannot refuse to insure, continue to insure, refuse to offer or submit an application for coverage, or limit the amount of coverage available to an individual because of the sex or marital status of the individual. Any insurance forms that exclude same-sex spouses from the definition of “spouse” or otherwise do not provide identical coverage or treatment for a same-sex spouse as for an opposite-sex spouse will not be approved.
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