Can an employee’s health insurance be canceled due to”insufficient” proof of marriage?

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Can an employee’s health insurance be canceled due to”insufficient” proof of marriage?

My husband’s employer is being “audited” by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and we were told to submit proof of marriage, even though we’ve been married 20 years. Based on information from BC/BS, we sent in copies of recent, joint tax returns. Today I learned that this is considered “insufficient” proof, and because of that my coverage was retroactively canceled as of the first of last month. Isn’t last year’s joint tax return more reliable proof of being married than a 20 year old marriage license? Is canceling me legal in this case?

Asked on February 9, 2011 under Insurance Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The problem is, a joint tax return doesn't prove you were married; it only proves you attempted to file your taxes as if you were married, which is not quite the same thing. You should send them a copy of the certificate and, if you don't have it still, see about getting duplicate copy from the county where you were married. If you can't provide it right away to the insurer, copy them on the letter by which you are requesting it from the county and ask for additional time in order to provide the documentation; that may possible put a hold on the cancelation, get you a temporary reinstatment, etc. Once you provide the proof, you should be able to get reinstated permanently.

You should also contact the state dept. of insurance and explain the situation--it's possible the department can help you reinstate your coverage.

Keep track of any and all medical expenses you incur, since if you can prove that you were married and therefore your coverage should have been cancelled, you may be able to seek reimbursement for costs during the uncovered time.

But again--if a large company wants a document like the marriage certificate, it is better to give them what they want then fight them. Insureres especially look for reasons, even just paperwork problems, to drop people; don't give them any.


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