How do I know if our company’s insurance plans apply to domestic partners?

If your company has decided to offer health insurance to domestic partnerships, here are some factors to consider.

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Your company decides whether or not to offer health insurance to domestic partnerships and would likely communicate their policy in the employee handbook. In addition, this would be specified in each carrier’s contract, also known as the Certificate of Coverage or policy, under the definition of dependent. Most insurance carriers allow the employer group to elect whether or not they will cover domestic partners.

While this election varies from carrier to carrier, so does the definition of domestic partner. Some carriers elect the narrow definition, which defines domestic partners as having official certification (available in select states) or that the couple are:

  • Same gender
  • If not same gender, over the age of 62.

Other carriers allow a broader definition that basically states a couple is unmarried and living together.

The employer may also define what constitutes a domestic partnership provided it is consistent with the definition utilized by the carriers with whom they have their benefits coverage(s).

Factors to consider

  • The extent of the relationship, e.g., the partners have been in a relationship for at least 2 years
  • The partners are unmarried
  • They live together
  • They are financially interdependent.

Other considerations for the employer

  • Whether they plan to cover dependents of domestic partners
  • Whether health insurance for domestic partners is exempt from federal taxes and qualifies as taxable income. State tax exemptions differ state to state.

For employer-specific advice, please reach out to a benefits advisor, such as one at Zenefits.

Domestic Partner Benefits – FindLaw — This article provides an overview of domestic partner employee benefits.

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