The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

BCBS fixes same-sex marriage policies

Blue Cross Blue Shield is North Carolina’s number one health insurance provider.

But last month, when BCBS systematically cancelled 20 family insurance policies of same-sex couples, its reputation took a hit.

“It was wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened (this) way,” said North Carolina resident Al Hinman in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. “For 24 years, (my husband and I have) been on the same insurance.”

North Carolina resident and Eckerd College sophomore Molly Hurd was also enraged.

“As a North Carolina resident and as someone who has BCBS, I’m pissed about the fact that they took away those policies,” Hurd told The Guilfordian.

“As someone who supports equal rights and businesses adhering to their deals, I think this is a ridiculous revocation,” Hurd said. “Blue Cross, along with North Carolina, needs to start getting with the times and accepting that there is more than one type of line.”

Appalachian State University junior Emily Forester, on the other hand, acknowledges BCBS’s rights as an organization.

“BCBS is 100 percent within their rights to cancel these policies,” Forester told The Guilfordian. “That’s why voting on the definition of marriage was such an issue — and not only in NC.”

According to Kerry Hall, North Carolina’s Insurance Department spokeswoman, BCBS could not legally offer family plans to same-sex couples at the time.

“BCBS of North Carolina was legally bound to invalidate the policies because of standard language in the insurer’s individual policies that define ‘spouse’ as ‘opposite sex’,” Hall said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle.

Health economics expert and Assistant Professor of Economics Natalya Shelkova speculates about the company’s word choice.

“I think that they mentioned a mistake in the wording of the insurance contract, but it appears strange that they could not resolve it internally without disrupting the coverage for same-sex couples,” said Shelkova. “The unwillingness to make such an effort is just bad business.”

However, on Jan. 29, BCBS declared a reinstatement of their policies for same- sex couples, beginning March 1.

Junior and Pride President D’vorah Nadel was thrilled to hear the news.

“It is nice to see a corporation (or) business that is recognizing where it has committed a disservice to people and is implementing immediate plans in order to fix it,” Nadel said.

Conversely, first-year and Pride member Taylor Brown believes that BCBS is getting more credit than it deserves.

“Why did BCBS even change their policies in the first place?” asked Brown. “Same-sex couples were getting the same benefits initially. What difference does it make now?”

As to why BCBS incorporated exclusive language to begin with, Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology Julie Winterich suspects an error, rather than BCBS wishing ill will on same-sex couples.

“Under the new health care act, it’s illegal to discriminate by sexual orientation,” Winterich said. “I doubt they intentionally sought to exclude same-sex couples (and) families, especially since they give same-sex benefits to their own employees.”

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About the Contributor
Nicole Zelniker, Editor-in-Chief
English major, Environmental Studies and Communication minors
Nicole loves newspapers, social justice and Harry Potter.

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