Highmark to offer family plans for same-sex couples

A major victory for a Harrisburg man in his fight with a health insurance giant: He and his partner wanted to buy a family health plan and were denied, but now they're going to get what they want.

Dan Miller and his partner were legally married in Washington, D.C. and they consider themselves to be a family, but since gay marriage is not legal in Pennsylvania, Highmark would not sell Miller a family plan for health coverage.

Miller called that discrimination.

“If you have a married couple, defining them as not a family and they can't buy a family policy when other married couples can, I'm not sure what else you would describe that as,” Miller said.

Since a family plan costs the same as a plan for two individuals, Miller says it was about the principal and not the price.

“This is about equality,” he said. “This is about being treated the same as everyone else. We are a married couple. We are a family. Our kids live with us.”

After countless hours on the phone, an about-face from Highmark: It now plans to offer a family plan to same-sex couples.

“I'm glad we were able to be the catalyst to get them there, for not only us but for every same-gender couple in Pennsylvania,” Miller said.

The move is being applauded by the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania.

“This is just a logical step to close that loop and make sure that they're really being supportive of LGBT lives at all levels of the organization,” executive director Louie Marven said.

Highmark Blue Shield spokesman Leilyn Perri said new benefits packages to accommodate same-sex couples have been submitted to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Perri said Highmark has requested expedited reviews and anticipates the plans will be available as early as this spring.

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