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Gay couples find uneven access to health insurance

BY ANN SANNER
ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nearly every day for three months, Carl Bechdel had to make calls or send emails to try to get family insurance coverage for his husband and himself under President Barack Obama's landmark health law.

The Harrisburg, Pa., couple had sent an insurer their application and a month's premium in early December but heard nothing. Weeks later, they were told their application was not processed because Pennsylvania doesn't recognize same-sex marriage. So Bechdel pushed back, repeatedly explaining their predicament in phone calls and emails. Finally, they got a call and apology from the president of the insurance company last month, plus a family plan that started in March.

"It was never a matter of price. It was a matter of respect," said Bechdel, a 60-year-old retired attorney who married Dan Miller in 2012 in Washington, D.C.

For gay couples, access to family insurance plans under the law is not guaranteed this year, and their options run the gamut, mirroring in part the patchwork of state laws governing same-sex marriage that have changed rapidly in recent years.

In Iowa, where gay marriage is legal, insurers selling plans in the marketplace created under the law offer policies to gay couples and families. But the major company in Tennessee's marketplace does not offer coverage at all to same-sex couples. Policies vary by insurer in Florida. And in Ohio, a couple sued for access to family insurance plans.

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