(HealthDay News) — Health plans that offer benefits for heterosexual couples must do the same for same-sex married couples, the Obama administration says.

The policy was posted online by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and takes effect next year. It applies to all plans offered in the new insurance markets and to many other individual and employer plans, the Associated Press reported.

The department said it wanted to clarify the rules and make coverage “more accessible and equitable for married same-sex couples.”

Under the policy, insurers that offer spousal coverage to heterosexual couples must provide the same benefit to same-sex couples who were legally married in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage, the AP reported.

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