Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina Reverses Insurance Cancelations to Gay Couples Following Bad Publicity

Remember Thomas Hafke and Chad Higby of Moore County, NC? They are a married same-sex couple who applied for family health insurance through that state's insurance exchange, they got approved for benefits, they paid their premiums, and then they received their new Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance cards. And then they received a call from Blue Cross Blue Shield's customer service office -- along with roughly 19 other same-sex married couples -- informing them that their family health plan was being canceled because North Carolina doesn't consider them to be a "real" married household due to the recently passed Amendment 1. They were essentially told that there was nothing to do about it except re-apply for two separate individual health insurance policies.

It's amazing what can be changed when provided enough negative publicity. Blue Cross Blue Shield reversed its policy of refusing family health policies to married gay and lesbian households:
In mid-January, Blue Cross systematically canceled 20 family policies and notified the affected customers they would have to reapply as unmarried single individuals. Some were married legally in other states and feared they would be required to lie on an insurance application form by denying their marriage.
The controversy rattled Blue Cross, the state’s largest insurer, and created a sense of embarrassment among many employees. CEO Brad Wilson extended a public apology in the company’s announcement. 

“We should have more thoughtfully considered this decision, with full appreciation of the impact it would have on same-sex married couples and domestic partners,” Wilson said. “We’re sorry we failed to do so...”
According to this article, couples like Hafke and Higby whose plans had been canceled will be retroactively restored. And new household applicants can purchase family coverage on Monday, February 3rd, and those plans will go into effect on March 1st.

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