On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in the United States v. Windsor that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is “unconstitutional” and “invalid.”
Q.) How does the ruling change my health insurance options?
A.) The Group Insurance Commission (GIC) has always allowed employees and retirees to cover their spouses as dependents on their health insurance. In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is law, the value of this benefit is not generally subject to state income tax. At the federal level, however, prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, the value of a same-sex spouse’s health benefit was subject to federal income tax. The value of the spouse’s benefits was reported to the federal government as taxable compensation, and the employer increased the federal tax withholding of employees who insured their same-sex spouses. The Supreme Court’s decision means that the value of a same-sex spouse’s health coverage will no longer be imputed as taxable income. This has the effect of making it significantly less expensive for an employee or retiree to cover a same-sex spouse.
Q.) Will I owe federal taxes for my same-sex spouse this year (2013)? Will I get a reimbursement for the taxes I’ve already paid this year? Will the taxes I paid in previous years be refunded to me?
Please see answers to tax questions on the Attorney General's website
Q.) Can I add my spouse to my plan?
A.) Yes. Complete the Insurance Data Form and include a copy of your marriage certificate. If you did not have family coverage prior to your marriage, you must also complete a GIC Insurance Enrollment and Change Form (Form-1) for state members or Form-1MUN (for municipal members) to change to family coverage.
State employees and retirees – click here for these forms
Municipal employees and retirees – click here for these forms
Active employees return these forms to their GIC Coordinator; retirees return them to the GIC at P.O. Box 8747, Boston, MA 02114-8747. If you do not know who your GIC coordinator is, please contact the GIC at 617-727-2310 x. 1, or visit the GIC Coordinator section of this website, to find out your GIC coordinator’s name.
Q.) If I add my spouse, when will the change take effect?
A.) If you already have a family plan (for example because you are covering a child), then your spouse’s coverage will take effect upon the GIC’s receipt of a complete Insurance Data Form and copy of the marriage certificate.
If you currently have individual coverage, adding your spouse will take a little longer, because your deduction needs to increase to the family rate, and deductions are taken a month in advance of coverage. The effective date for the family coverage will be determined by the GIC based on when the deduction can be taken.
Q.) I’d like to add my spouse, but the plan I am enrolled in does not work for my spouse. Can I change plans?
A.) Yes, for a limited period of time. Normally, members may only change plans during Annual Enrollment, or in certain limited circumstances such if they move out of the plan’s service area. In light of the significant change associated with the Supreme Court decision, however, members who wish to change plans and add their same-sex spouse should contact the GIC in writing within 30 days of the Supreme Court decision (by July 26, 2013). And be sure to include your GIC ID (usually social security number) and a copy of your certified marriage certificate. After that time, you may add your spouse, but you will not be able to change plans until the next Annual Enrollment.
Q.) Can I enroll in the Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) now that my same-sex spouse’s out-of-pocket health care expenses are eligible for reimbursement?
A.) Yes. The Supreme Court Decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act is a “qualifying event” as a family status change. You have until July 26, 2013, to change your election or enroll in coverage for the first time.
Q.) How do I add my same-sex spouse and increase my election to my Health Care Spending Account?
A.) The Supreme Court’s overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act is a “qualifying event” that allows you to change your HCSA election amount and add your spouse. Complete and return the FSA Benefit Enrollment Form to your Payroll Coordinator no later than July 26, 2013, and indicate your new election amount. Provide a copy of your marriage certificate to your Payroll Coordinator if this is not already on file for GIC health insurance benefits. A copy of this marriage certificate must accompany the enrollment form your Payroll Coordinator sends to Benefit Strategies.
Q.) What will be the effective date of my same-sex spouse’s Health Care Spending Account enrollment?
A.) The enrollment effective date will be the date you complete the FSA Benefit Enrollment Form with your Payroll Coordinator and completed forms must be submitted to the FSA carrier, Benefit Strategies, by July 26, 2013, for the current plan year.
Example: if you submit your completed FSA Benefit Enrollment Form to your Payroll Coordinator on July 15, 2013 the benefit effective date will also be July 15, 2013. Your same-sex spouse’s out-of-pocket health care expenses will be eligible for reimbursement as of July 15, 2013.
Q.) Can my same-sex spouse use the Flex Spending Account Visa debit card?
A.) Currently enrolled participants were issued two cards; your spouse can use the second card for their expenses once they are added to your account. Please contact Benefit Strategies (1-877-353-9442) if additional cards are needed; fees apply for replacement cards. All new enrollees will receive two cards from Benefit Strategies once enrolled. New cards usually arrive in 7-10 business days.