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

UPDATED: Feb 9, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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