A special enrollment period beginning May 1, 2007 and lasting throughout the month will allow employees to enroll their same-sex spouse in the New York State Health Insurance Program.
Effective May 1, 2007, the New York State Department of Civil Service (DCS) will respect out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples for the purposes of extending spousal insurance benefits to current and retired state and local government employees. All New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) Participating Agencies and Employers, including local government agencies and public authorities around the state, must provide benefits to same-sex spouses of employees who were validly married in places like Canada or Massachusetts.
“This policy brings much-needed insurance coverage to married lesbian and gay New Yorkers working throughout New York in service to their state and their communities,” said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Susan Sommer. “As this policy makes clear, same-sex couples who have married in places like Canada are entitled to full respect and protections for their marriages under New York law.”
More than 800 state and local government employers are part of NYSHIP’s program and must now offer coverage to same-sex spouses of married employees. The policy applies to all health benefit plans provided under NYSHIP, including the Empire Plan and HMOs, the New York State Dental and Vision Plans, the M/C Life Insurance Program and the New York Public Employee and Retiree Long Term Care Program.
Contact your employer’s human resources department for information on how to enroll and check the DCS website for further information and to download forms. If you have trouble locating appropriate forms and information, contact Christine Williams at 518-473-1879. Read the DCS policy and press release.
This policy came about following litigation by Lambda Legal seeking to secure spousal benefits in New York for same-sex couples validly married in other jurisdictions. The policy change also comes on the heels of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s introduction of a marriage equality bill to the state legislature.
The NYSHIP enrollment form for local government employees is called PS 503.1. Take the following steps to locate the application on the New York State Department of Civil Service website:
- CSD Home Page
- Local Government employees
- Health Benefits
- Health Benefits and Option Transfer Forms
- Health Dental and Vision forms
The NYSHIP enrollment form for state employees is called PS 404. Take the following steps to locate the application on the New York State Department of Civil Service website:
- CSD Home Page
- State employee
- Health Benefits and Option Transfer
- Health Dental and Vision Forms
The completed form MUST be submitted to the agency HBA for processing onto NYBEAS, the enrollment system. If the employee is a retiree, it must be submitted to the New York State Department of Civil Service Employee Benefits Division.
New York State Health Insurance Program — What You Need to Know: Definitions of Participating Agencies and Employers
- A Participating Agency is a local government agency such as a county, city, town, village, school district or other municipal entity.
- There are more than 800 Participating Agencies throughout New York. View the comprehensive list of participating agencies.
- A Participating Employer is a government agency in New York State that is maintained and financed from special administrative funds, such as Metropolitan Transit Authority, Thruway Authority, or Bridge Authority.
If you or someone you know encounters any problems qualifying for these benefits contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk for information and assistance.