Everything LGBT people need to know about signing up for health insurance after getting married.
Last week’s historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court affirming marriage equality for everyone across the country means there are going to be a lot of weddings this summer. But that’s just the beginning of the good news.
Many LGBT people may not realize that once they begin their lives of legally wedded bliss, they have a special opportunity to enroll in quality, affordable health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Getting married is considered a “qualifying life event” under the Affordable Care Act. That means that newly married couples qualify for a “special enrollment period,” which lets them sign up for a new health plan or make changes to the plan they enrolled in during the last open enrollment period.
Erin Knott, Michigan State Director for Enroll America, had these thoughts to share with the happy couples:
Last week’s marriage equality ruling is yet another victory for the uninsured – both here in Michigan and nationwide. But many LGBT Michiganders may not realize that as they marry their partners over the summer, they can also take advantage of an opportunity to get affordable health coverage. I encourage every Michigander who chooses to take that next step with their partner to consider their coverage needs and to sit down with an in-person enrollment assister to decide what is best for themselves and their new family. Your wedding day will be one of the most exciting of your life, but once the wedding bells are done ringing, protect yourself with quality, affordable health coverage.
Here are 6 things LGBT Michiganders should know now that they can legally get married:
1. All newly married couples can enroll in a plan through Healthcare.gov right away, before enrollment reopens in November. Also, if you’re applying for Medicaid, every state must recognize your marriage regardless of where you got married. That way, you and your spouse can both get covered without having to spend the summer without health insurance.
2. You’ll have 60 days to sign up. The special enrollment period will start the day you get married and end 60 days later, so you’ll have time to sign up after the honeymoon. Just be sure to check out your options and pick a plan during that time-limited window so you don’t spend the rest of this year unprotected. (If you miss the window, you’ll have to wait for open enrollment in November.)
3. Legally married couples — including same-sex newlyweds who are getting married in Michigan — can receive financial assistance as a married couple. In fact, 78% of Michiganders who enrolled in coverage received financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums. The average Michigander who enrolls through the Marketplace is seeing their premiums reduced by a whopping $273. And no worries about that financial assistance being taken away! (Thanks for another great decision, Supreme Court.)
4. The plans are not only affordable — they’re high-quality as well. Every plan must cover ten essential health services, including emergency room visits, prescription drugs and preventive care. And remember: no one can be denied preventive coverage because of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
5. Free, one-on-one enrollment assistance from culturally competent experts is available from Get Covered America. Use their handy online tool to find free, local enrollment assistance and schedule an appointment.
6. If you don’t have health insurance, you might have to pay a fine. Your wedding is going to be a happy occasion for you and your partner, but paying a fine for not having coverage won’t be. The fine for not being covered in 2015 is $325 per adult or 2 percent of your income, whichever is greater. And that’s not even counting the cost of care if you get sick of injured.
The right to get married to your partner is now a reality for millions of Americans. Show your love to the world, and then show it to each other by making sure you have the coverage you need to stay healthy for a long life together.
Other life changing events also qualify the uninsured to enroll through a special enrollment period, including certain changes in income, having a baby, or moving to a different coverage area. Visit Healthcare.gov to learn more. In Michigan, enrollment in Medicaid — through the Healthy Michigan Plan — is year-round for those that qualify.
[Photo by Anne C. Savage Photography.]