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Insurance questions, updated benefits for gay newlyweds

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Insurers, employers and new spouses are reviewing how Minnesota's married gay couples can access health and other benefits available to legal spouses.

The Pioneer Press reports that Minnesota's Commerce Department issued a bulletin to inform insurance companies about the new law, which went on the books at midnight. The bulletin says that same-sex spouses will have the same rights to dependent health insurance coverage as opposite-sex spouses in certain employee health plans.

The department's interpretation is limited to health insurance plans regulated by the state. Those plans, known as "fully insured" policies, cover about 24 percent of state residents. The ruling does not apply to most "self-insured" companies that are large enough to carry the risk for health plan costs, and subject to federal regulation. Those plans cover about 38 percent of state residents.

The impact on residents covered by public health insurance programs, which provide coverage for about 14 percent of state residents, is still unclear because the state and federal governments jointly fund Medicaid.

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