By Rosy Mota
The Supreme Court’s decision in favor of marriage equality in late June was first and foremost a major victory for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Many of us are still awestruck and filled with happiness over the new possibilities that the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling has opened for LGBT Americans.
Secondly, it was a huge validation for our community. As well-known YouTuber ElloSteph said, “Today is the first day of my life that I woke up feeling like an equal citizen.” Many of us would have never thought marriage equality would actually happen in our lifetimes.
In addition to extending marriage equality across the nation, the Supreme Court ruled on a number of other important cases including King v. Burwell, in which the Supreme Court ruled that financial assistance to lower insurance premiums would remain available in every state. This means that the 86 percent of Texans enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace and receiving tax subsidies know that they will be able to afford their health coverage. In fact, the average enrollee in Texas is seeing their premium reduced by an average of $247 per month, thanks to that financial assistance.
Both of these Supreme Court decisions have a huge impact on many Texans. But with marriage equality at the forefront of the minds of the LGBT community, it is important to see how these two decisions complement each other. Once an LGBT couple gets married, they can immediately sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, allowing the couple to see what financial assistance is available to them as a family and determine which health plans will best cover the newly-formed and recognized union.
From the date of your wedding, you have 60 days to sign up, and you can use the help of a culturally competent enrollment assister in your community. You can find one of these wonderful experts by logging on to the Get Covered Connector at getcoveredamerica.org/connector.
Lastly, bear in mind that if you do not take action to get covered, you risk having to pay a fine for not having insurance during 2015—$325 per person or two percent of your income, whichever is more.
So once the date is set, the cake is cut, and you have settled into your new role as wife or husband, take a few minutes and learn about your healthcare options as a family.
For many, health insurance is not the most pressing concern in the days after your wedding. But health insurance is something that all of us need. So when you say “I do” and exchange your vows, your spouse’s wellbeing rises to the top of your priorities. Access to health insurance has rarely, if ever, been guaranteed for the LGBT community. But now you have access to what millions of heterosexual Americans have enjoyed for years—financial help and affordable quality healthcare coverage.
Rosy Mota is the Regional Director for Get Covered America in Houston and a proud member of the LGBT community.