The state Office of Group Benefits health insurance plan opened enrollment to spouses in same-sex marriages Friday.

Officials had delayed the sign-up awaiting an IRS determination whether the spouses could be added to policies outside the normal annual enrollment period.

No IRS guidance came, but Group Benefits decided to open a “limited” enrollment period anyway. The enrollment period for spouses or dependents will begin immediately and will remain open through Aug. 11.

The regular annual enrollment period is Oct. 1 through Nov. 15.

An LSU-administered health insurance plan opened enrollment Wednesday to those married prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriages. It did so without the IRS ruling.

Group Benefits Chief Executive Officer Susan West expressed surprise earlier this week at LSU’s decision. She said she would consult with LSU First officials.

“While there has yet to be an official statement from the IRS on this particular matter, they had issued enrollment guidance in 2013 for similar situations,” according to a memo on the Group Benefits website. “Based upon this guidance, OGB finds it appropriate to offer coverage to same-sex couples who were married prior to June 26, 2015, the date of the court ruling.”

Group Benefits provides health insurance coverage for some 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their dependents.

The agency previously had said it would allow spouses of same-sex couples who wed after the court ruling to enroll.

A marriage is considered a “qualifying change in status event” allowing for insurance enrollment outside the normal annual enrollment period. Group Benefits was waiting for the IRS to say whether the recent court ruling also should be considered a “qualifying change” allowing immediate sign-up of those previously married to a same-sex partner.

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