Same Sex Couples Are Now Covered by PEIA

Oct 16, 2014

A spokeswoman for the Department of Administration confirmed Thursday that married, same sex couples in West Virginia are now able to apply for coverage under the state's Public Employee Insurance Agency.

The change comes after Attorney General Patrick Morrisey decided last week to no longer defend the state's gay marriage ban in federal court. Governor Tomblin soon after released a statement directing state agencies to "take appropriate action" to make the practice legal in West Virginia, including the reprinting of marriage license applications.

Diane Holley-Brown, communications director for the Department of Administration, said same sex spouses were able to enroll in the program immediately after the governor's announcement was made, but said the enrollment system is not able to track same sex marriages specifically. 

Outside of an open enrollment period, state employees can only buy coverage in the program when they experience what's referred to by the industry as a "qualifying event." That includes things like marriage, divorce, or a birth in the family.

Holley-Brown said the governor's decision to essentially change the definition of marriage then made those couples immediately eligible to purchase an insurance plan under PEIA.