Domestic Partners and the Affordable Care Act in North Carolina

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The Affordable Care Act has created enrollment issues for thousands of North Carolinians, and recently we’ve received specific questions regarding enrollment for domestic partners.

Currently, while some large employers (including ourselves) choose to cover domestic partners, that option isn’t yet available for our small group or individual customers. However, we are implementing changes that will allow us to offer domestic partner coverage to those groups by January 2015.

But there are a couple of important things to note regarding this issue.

For individual ACA policies, there isn’t a “family” premium. Instead, each person under the policy receives an individual premium rate based on specific criteria: age, geographic location and tobacco use. That means each individual is rated separately, and then the individual rates are added together. From a rate perspective, domestic partners wouldn’t be penalized from a price or coverage sense—though they would receive two separate bills and ID cards.

Additionally, there has been some confusion for some of our customers since the Federal exchanges makes a domestic option available, but we are not yet able to offer individual policies for domestic partners. We’re working to correct this.

Since we’ve been made aware of the issue, we have reached out to approximately 20 enrollees who submitted applications for domestic partner coverage through the Federal exchange. We let them know that we were unable to process the applications as submitted. And that includes both same sex and opposite sex domestic partners.

During the process of reaching out to these customers, we advised and offered to help them to re-enroll in our Blue Advantage product separately for individual coverage. And in cases where each individual could qualify for a subsidy, we advised them on that process. We’re also working with them to make sure there’s no lapse in coverage.

To learn more about this issue, you can read this piece from Qnotes.

About Natania Barron

Natania Barron is a social media communications specialist and community manager at BCBSNC. She's passionate about connecting with customers online and changing what the healthcare industry thinks about social media.