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Are employers who provide health insurance in Texas also required to provide health insurance to their employees' "life partners" (both same sex and heterosexual)?

No, although 18 states mandate that group health insurance plans cover domestic partners, Texas does not have a such a law, according to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance's annual report on state health insurance mandates.

But a growing number of employers extend health insurance benefits to domestic partners, so it doesn't hurt to ask if your employer does. According to a 2007 survey by Hewitt Associates, 54 percent of surveyed companies offered coverage to domestic partners, up from 19 percent of surveyed firms in 2002. A 2008 study by the Human Rights Campaign Fund found that 9,374 private employers, non-profits and unions offered domestic partner benefits, including 270 Fortune 500 companies.

Employers vary in how they define domestic partnerships and what they require from employees to prove the relationships. According to a 2009 fact sheet by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, you might need to show documents that prove a financial relationship, such as a joint mortgage or lease, or you may simply have to sign a statement confirming your relationship.

Last updated: Apr. 4, 2011