All WA Insurance Companies Must Provide Spousal Coverage for Same-Sex Couples, Says AG
WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State Human Rights Commission Executive Director Sharon Ortiz issued a joint statement Thursday about insurance coverage in Washington state.
While discrimination laws have been in place since 2006, Ferguson said, especially since the discussion about and implementation of Obamacare, a number of companies have been allegedly offering policies that don’t cover the spouse of a same-sex couple.
According to information released Thursday by the AG’s office:
The agencies have learned some health plans have provided dependent coverage for opposite-sex spouses of employees or other insureds, but failed to provide the same coverage to same-sex spouses. This practice violates Washington state law. If healthcare benefits are provided to opposite-sex spouses, they must be provided to same-sex spouses on an equal basis. Which state laws apply and whether there are any exceptions may depend on specific circumstances.
According to Ferguson, this information and letter was released following their investigation of the O’Reilly Autoparts company, whom Ferguson claimed didn’t offer spousal coverage to same-sex couples through ALL it’s policies.
Ferguson says all insurance policies offered by a company for it’s workers are required to contain this provision. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in our state, Ferguson has been pursuing companies and business he believes may not be following the law – even if they’re not aware of policies that might not offer spousal coverage. Policies must mirror each other.
Some companies were not aware that ALL their policies didn’t offer such coverage. In the case of O’Reilly, they had a number of policies that did offer spousal coverage, but not ALL of them. Ferguson has made it his “crusade” to pursue and if necessary, penalize companies – even if they didn’t know some of their policies were not in compliance.