Blue Cross changes course, to offer benefits to N.C. families

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The insurer is changing its definition of

North Carolina's largest insurer is reversing course and now says it will offer family coverage to same-sex married couples and domestic partners in new policies.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said this week it's making the change for policies sold starting next week and taking effect March 1.

The announcement comes after The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that the Chapel Hill-based insurer cancelled family coverage sold to 20 gay and lesbian couples on a federal insurance marketplace. The cancellations were forced because of restrictive contract language that defines "spouse" as "opposite sex."

Blue Cross planned to change the definition next year, but CEO Brad Wilson says the insurer should have been more thoughtful about the delay.