Louisiana officials are awaiting word from the IRS on when some same-sex partners can enroll their spouses in the state’s health insurance programs.
New spouses and their dependents can be enrolled within 30 days of their marriage under existing guidelines.
But those previously married to a same-sex partner have to wait to enroll in the state-administered Office of Group Benefits or LSU First programs.
Group Benefits covers about 230,000 state employees, retirees, teachers and their dependents. LSU First is available to LSU employees as well as legislators and their employees.
Division of Administration spokesman Greg Dupuis said the insurance program needs an Internal Revenue Service ruling to authorize enrollment outside the normal sign-up period.
Once that occurs, a limited midyear special enrollment period will be provided for previously married same-sex couples, Dupuis said.
IRS guidance is expected soon in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision late last month legalizing same-sex marriages.
But until that occurs, nothing can happen.
The next regular enrollment period is Oct. 1 through Nov. 15.
LSU First officials are currently signing up same-sex married couples who have come to the insurance program’s offices seeking benefits, LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said. “LSU First is prepared to provide coverage,” he said.
“We are, however, restricted from providing actual coverage until the Office of Group Benefits, which controls eligibility for state-provided benefits, permits us to do so,” Ballard said.
“As soon as we are given permission by OGB, the LSU First Health Plan will immediately provide coverage to the qualified spouses of our employees,” he said.
Neither Dupuis nor Ballard could provide numbers on the inquiries the insurance programs have received since the Supreme Court ruling.
Group Benefits is subject to IRS guidelines for the administration of its Section 125 cafeteria plan. A marriage is considered a “qualifying change in status event” allowing for insurance enrollment outside the normal annual period. But the IRS has not weighed in on whether the recent court ruling should also be considered a “qualifying change” allowing immediate sign-up of those previously married to a same-sex partner. Otherwise they would have to wait for the regular annual enrollment period.