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Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Opens Door to Health Care Enrollment


The U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage has far-reaching effects in Kentucky, including triggering the opportunity for couples to enroll in Kynect, the state's version of the Affordable Care Act.

Montserrat Caballero is with the nonprofit group Enroll America, which helps people get coverage through the ACA. She says marriage, like childbirth and adoption, is a "qualifying life event," which means some updates are in order.

"The Supreme Court ruling reaffirmed same-sex marriage, and so really, after all the celebration, just making sure you look at those kind of logistical things that come with marriage," she points out.

Caballero says couples have 60 days from the date they marry to either get new coverage or change an existing health insurance plan.

The executive director of Kentucky's Health Benefit Exchange, Carrie Banahan, says she does not expect a significant enrollment increase due to the high court's ruling. She notes that prior to the decision, there was a federal regulation in place requiring health exchanges to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

"We did have some cases, and it was not a lot,” she says. “Probably less than 50."

Banahan states more than a half-million people have enrolled in Kynect, about 80 percent of them through the state's expansion of Medicaid. She says three new insurers will be added in 2016 and Kentuckians could have up to eight choices, depending on which county they live in.

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