Employers adjusting to benefits for same-sex couples

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Health insurance providers along with employers are adjusting to Monday’s announcement, allowing same-sex marriage in Indiana.

Starting next year, federal law will require companies that offer health insurance to spouses to offer the same benefits to same-sex couples. That will be the case even in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage, as long as the couple was married in a state that does.

“I would guess that every person in Indiana who practices family law has been watching this very, very closely because this does hit close to home for us. I can’t tell you how many calls, people we’ve had show up at our door, who have been married in other states who are in same-sex marriages, coming here and looking for a divorce, looking for some sort of relief from the court that up to now, we’ve had to say sorry we can’t help you,” said Christopher LaPan, a local attorney.

However, LaPan and other law firms can now help with a number of issues, including same-sex couples’ rights when it comes to healthcare.

He said employers have the option of giving spousal health coverage, gay or straight. Come 2015, if employers do it for one, they’ll have to do it for the other.

“They’ll have a decision to make at that point. Do we pull the plug on all spousal benefits just simply because we don’t want to cover same-sex partners or do we continue to cover heterosexual couples and then we bring in also the same-sex spouses as well. If you’re asking me what I would expect to happen, I would guess the latter,” said LaPan.

In the meantime, he said it would make sense for companies to bite the bullet now.

According to LaPan, when you’re looking at it from broad terms, at most, there are about 4.5 million same-sex couples in the nation.

“Even if every gay couple decides to go out today and get married I would expect that the financial implication to the employer would be minimal,” said LaPan.

NewsChannel 15 checked in with some insurance company providers. Other than some initial changes to how you enter the information in, things won’t change.

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