November 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
HHS website helps companies insure gay employees

The Department of Health & Human Services has expanded its website on health insurance companies to include a filter allowing small business owners to locate plans allowing for same-sex partner coverage.

The website,, was established as a result of the health care reform law that President Obama signed into law in 2009. The website provides details about the Affordable Care Act and offers a searchable database enabling individuals and businesses to find health insurance plans.

In addition to providing a filter enabling small businesses to find plans covering same-sex partners, the expansion of the website — activated on Friday — lets businesses find product choices for a given zip code, sort them by out-of-pocket limits, and find plans with mental health and maternity coverage.

Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said the change fosters a more transparent and competitive marketplace in addition to allowing businesses to find plans in an unbiased manner.

“This new information will help business owners navigate what has traditionally been a complicated and confusing decision,” Sebelius said. “Both owners and their employees can feel more confident that the plans offered will be the best to suit everyone’s needs.”

An informed source said the change is just a first step and a later iteration of the website will enable individuals — not just employers — to find health insurance plans that allow for same-sex partner coverage.

According to HHS, the website is the first to bring together information and links to health insurance plans in one venue. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services collected the benefits information from insurers. More than 530 insurers provided information for more than 2,700 coverage plans.

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, welcomed the change.

“This is good news and another sign of progress,” Sainz said. “Anything that makes it easier for companies to ensure that all their employees, including those with same-sex partners, have access to health insurance is a good thing.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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