The Department of Health & Human Services announced on Tuesday it has altered its website promoting the health care reform law to enable users to search for plans that provide benefits to same-sex partners.
The website, HealthCare.gov, now enables individuals searching for health insurance to narrow their results to find plans offering “domestic partner coverage” or “same-sex coverage.”
Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius touted the change in a statement as a way to make health care more readily available to LGBT people.
“Last year, as part of our commitment to work with the LGBT community and be more responsive to the needs of these populations, we promised to improve the Health Plan Finder tool to give LGBT individuals the ability to search for health plans that provide same-sex partner benefits,” Sebelius said. “Today we have delivered on that promise.”
Other filters through which individuals can search for health care plans include categories based on enrollment or out-of-pocket expenses. According to HHS, studies have shown LGBT people are disproportionately uninsured and the ”new filter helps address that issue by linking same-sex couples to carriers that provide benefits for their partners.”
The website had previously enabled small businesses to search for plans that would provide partner benefits to their employees in same-sex relationships. The change that HHS announced on Tuesday is the next step in the process of upgrading the website.
Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said the change will help same-sex couples overcome difficulties in finding health care plans.
“In the past, many same-sex couples have faced challenges searching for health coverage that suited their needs,” Larsen said. “This tool will eliminate the guesswork, providing an enhanced resource for exploring insurance coverage.”
Michael Cole-Schwarz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said the change demonstrates the administration’s interests in providing health care to all Americans.
“This is an important step that further demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring all Americans — including LGBT people — have better access to quality and inclusive health care,” Cole-Schwartz said. “As the Affordable Care Act is implemented, we look forward to continuing to work with the administration so that our community’s interests are addressed.”