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I have a domestic partner of four years. We're of the opposite sex; he doesn't believe in marriage. Can he be covered on my work health insurance?

That depends on where you live and your employer's policies. Eighteen states mandate group health insurance plans to cover domestic partners, according to a 2010 report by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance.

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However, state laws do not apply to employers that fund their own group health insurance plans. Most very large companies have self-funded plans, which are regulated by federal laws.

Even without mandates, a growing number of employers extend employee benefits coverage to domestic partners. More than half, 54 percent, of surveyed firms offered coverage for domestic partners, according to a 2007 survey by Hewitt Associates, which is more than double the 19 percent of surveyed firms who offered domestic partner benefits in 2002.

According to a 2008 report by the Human Rights Campaign Fund, 9,374 private employers, nonprofit organizations and unions offer domestic partner benefits to homosexual or unmarried heterosexual partners.

Ask your employer's human resource department whether benefits are extended to domestic partners and how the employer defines domestic partnerships. According to a 2009 fact sheet by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the most common definitions contain the following elements:

  • Both partners must have reached a minimum age, usually 18
  • Neither is related by blood closer than what is permitted for marriage in that state
  • Partners must share a committed and exclusive relationship
  • The partners must be financially interdependent

Your employer will require some sort of documentation to prove the relationship, which may be as simple as having you sign a written statement of the relationship, or documents that show a financial relationship, such as a joint mortgage or lease, according to EBRI.

For more, see health insurance benefits for domestic partners.

 

 

Last updated: Apr. 29, 2011
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