Marriage Equality Means Opportunities for Health Coverage: What LGBT Ohioans Need to Know Now that Ohio has Marriage Equality
June 30, 2015
COLUMBUS, OH — With last week’s historic ruling by the Supreme Court affirming marriage equality for everyone regardless of what state they live in, a new world of opportunities is opening for Ohio’s LGBT community. But many Ohioans may not realize that once the wedding bells are done ringing, 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. This means that newly-married couples qualify for a “special enrollment period,” which allows them to sign up for a new health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, or make changes to the plan they enrolled in during the last open enrollment period.
So when LGBT Ohioans tie the knot, they can start their new life together with the protection of health insurance that fits their needs and budget.
Here are 6 things LGBT Ohioans should know now that they can legally get married:
- All newly-married couples can enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace right away, before enrollment reopens in November. If you get married this summer, you’ll have an opportunity to enroll in Health Insurance Marketplace coverage. Additionally, 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 and not spend the summer without health insurance.
- 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.
- Legally married couples – including same-sex newlyweds who are getting married in Ohio – can receive financial assistance as a married couple. In fact 85% of Ohioans who enrolled in coverage received financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums.
- The plans are not only affordable – they’re 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.
- Free, one-on-one enrollment assistance from culturally competent experts is available. Ohioans can visit the Get Covered Connector at getcoveredamerica.org/connector to see where free, local enrollment assistance is available in their area and schedule an appointment. These assisters receive cultural competence training before becoming certified to provide assistance.
- If you don’t have health insurance, you might have to pay a fine. Your wedding is going to be incredibly exciting 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 of 2 percent of your income, whichever is greater. And that’s not even counting the cost of care if you should get sick of injured.
The right to get married to your partner is now a reality for millions of Americans – and thousands of Ohioans – but don’t let another major opportunity slide under your radar. After you get married, visit healthcare.gov or use the Get Covered Connector to schedule a time with a free enrollment assister and find out about your health coverage options.
Other life changing events also qualify Ohio’s uninsured to enroll through a special enrollment period. These events include: certain changes in income, having a baby, or moving to a different coverage area. Enrollment in Medicaid is year-round for those that qualify.
In Ohio, Get Covered America is working with LGBT leaders and organizations across the state including Stonewall Columbus, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, and the Columbus Public Health LGBTQ Health Initiative to help LGBT Ohioans enroll. Get Covered America also serves as part of the Greater Columbus LGBTQ Health Coalition and will be participating in the inaugural Central Ohio LGBTQ Health Equity Conference October 30-31, 2015. The conference will gather health care professionals, community members, advocates, and community leaders to address the health needs and disparities for the LGBT community and share knowledge on how to improve health care in this community.
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