Q: An employee has asked that we enroll his same-sex spouse as his dependent for group medical insurance. Can I ask for a copy of their marriage certificate to verify that they are legally married?
A: You may but should do so only if you ask for similar documentation verifying the legal dependent status of all employees' spouses upon enrollment. Otherwise you might be accused of differing treatment based on sexual orientation, which has been a form of illegal discrimination in Connecticut for many years.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Connecticut by court decision since 2008, and by a change in state law in 2009. Unless there is some outward conduct to suspect an employee's assertion of being married is false, most employers accept an employee's statement of marital status without challenge.
A more suitable approach to prevent enrolling ineligible individuals for coverage would be to advise all employees seeking to enroll dependents that upon enrollment they will be signing documents attesting to the eligibility of their dependents and that any misrepresentation would result in a denial of coverage and possibly legal action to recover benefits previously paid to an ineligible individual.
Keep in mind that paying the premium does not guarantee the insurance carrier will provide coverage.
Paying benefits hinges on truthful application of individuals for coverage, a representation by the insured that all covered individuals meet the eligibility standards. The last thing anyone wants is to have a claim denied after an expensive medical treatment.