Canceled Insurance Plans Reinstated for N.C. Same-Sex Couples

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com January 29 2014 6:03 PM ET

Weeks after several same-sex couples in North Carolina were told that their health insurance coverage through Blue Cross and Blue Shield would be canceled due to a wording glitch, the health insurance provider has reversed its decision.

Earlier this month the insurer canceled policies for 20 couples who were legally married in states that recognize marriage equality, advising them to reapply for insurance coverage as unmarried individuals. According to the company, allowing married or registered same-sex couples and their families to apply for insurance was part of a system update that they chose to postpone until 2015. The insurer's application had language that defined a person's spouse as a member of the opposite sex.

"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," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Beginning Monday, same-sex couples who are married or domestic partners will be able to purchase family health insurance coverage, and those who applied as individuals can convert those plans to family plans.

Equality NC had an online town hall meeting to address the situation, which led to Blue Cross and Blue Shield acknowledging the problem.

"This victory is the direct result not only of the work of so many organizations like Equality NC that are seeking to provide basic protections for our community, but also the individual gay and lesbian victims of discriminatory policies who were willing and able to come forward and fight for basic protections in the state they call home," Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, said in a statement Wednesday. "We owe this win to them, and pledge today to redouble our efforts to fight for much-needed LGBT workplace protections in communities all across the state so that their visibility and voices can lead to even more victories here in North Carolina."