May Result In Lower Overall Costs
Health insurance plans and their costs vary from plan to plan.
Premiums may be cheaper for a couple on one plan than two individual plans.
Of course, this depends on the plan, your alternatives, and how you use your health insurance.
That said, other costs could be increased.
Youll have to run the numbers to see if this is beneficial based on your specific situation.
This involves making estimates of your future healthcare use and costs.
The Role Of Gender In Domestic Partnerships
Some employers began offering domestic partner plans for couples who couldn’t get married legally, such as same-sex couples or partnerships with nonbinary individuals. They’re continuing to revisit their offerings in an effort to attract a wider pool of talent.
More employers may move forward given the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S., according to human resource consulting firm Aon Hewitt. They may offer spousal benefits under one umbrella to cover both domestic partnerships and marriages. This could mean that some companies may discontinue domestic partnership benefits because same-sex marriage has been legalized across all states.
Domestic Partners Are Eligible For Qualifying Life Events
Those big moments in an employees life that impact benefits eligibility also apply to domestic partners. These events, which qualify an employee to change their benefit elections outside of the open enrollment timeframe, can include moments like:
- Newly eligible domestic partner
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Death of a domestic partner
- The employees domestic partner gaining or losing coverage at his/her job
- The employees status changing from full-time to part-time status or vice versa
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How To Register A Domestic Partnership
To register a domestic partnership in a state, city or county that recognizes it, you must fill out an application from your city or county clerks office. Both partners are required to appear in person and show proof of identity and residence. You will pay a registration fee and sign an affidavit in front of the clerk or a notary public.
Domestic Partner Health Insurance: How Does It Work
One benefit married people have is the ability to be on the same health insurance in many cases.
This benefit hasnt always extended to domestic partners.
Thankfully, some states now recognize domestic partnerships.
In general, a domestic partnership is when two people arent legally married but live together in a committed relationship.
These partnerships can be same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples.
Being part of a domestic partnership may give you certain benefits depending on where you live.
Each state has different laws regarding this. Youll have to check with your states laws to be sure.
Same-sex couples may use a states domestic partnership laws to gain benefits they may not otherwise be able to access.
In other cases, opposite-sex couples that dont want a legal marriage may also use domestic partnership laws to access some benefits.
One common question domestic partners have is whether they can access domestic partner health insurance together.
This may help domestic partners simplify their lives or save money.
It may make sense to consult an expert, such as a lawyer, before seeking out coverage. This can help you avoid any unintended consequences.
This is especially true for same-sex couples.
Many states do not have anti-discrimination laws in place.
If you live in one of these states, you could put your job at risk by asking about same-sex domestic partner benefits.
That said, heres some general information about what you need to know.
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Other Important Things To Know About Who Can Be On Your Health Plan
Review your plan summary and call the insurer for more details if something is unclear before you decide who to add to your policy. Also, make sure you understand what these policy additions will cost you. Look both at premiums and potential higher out-of-pocket costs, including for out-of-network care.
Going from single coverage to spouse or family coverage could double, triple or even quadruple your premiums. Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that the average annual premiums for single coverage was $1,243 in 2020. Thats compared to more than $5,588 employees paid on average for family coverage.
If your employer has a benefits booklet or something similar, you may be able to find out what kind of benefits they extend to spouses or dependents. If youre confident that you wont experience discrimination, you can ask your HR representative as well, Donovan says. If youre nervous about discrimination, you may be able to call your insurer to see if they can tell you who you can add to your plan without directly asking your employer.
What Are The Tax Implications For Domestic Partners
The tax arena is one area with a clear difference between spousal insurance and domestic partner insurance.
Federal law dictates that spouses and dependents health insurance premiums cant be taxed. However, domestic partnerships arent recognized by the federal government. So, the premiums paid for that partner and dependents are considered income for tax purposes.
That means that the employee will have to pay income tax and Social Security taxes on that premium every paycheck.
The Supreme Courts decision that legalized same-sex marriage cleared barriers for couples. However, you can still get many of the same benefits if youre in a domestic partnership.
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One Fee Structure To Keep Track Of
This can cause headaches. This is especially true at the beginning of the year when deductibles reset.
A health insurance plan for a couple may have an individual deductible per person and a plan deductible per family.
This could be considered a bit more complex than two separate plans with separate deductibles.
However, both partners would pay the same co-pays and co-insurance amounts based on one plans document.
This should make keeping track of health insurance bills easier.
It should also make it easier to plan for your future healthcare costs.
Domestic Partnership Tax And Exceptions
If a companys health insurance plan permits employees unmarried partners to be covered and an employee is not married but in a committed relationship, the employer has to provide health insurance benefits on a post-tax basis.
What this means for the employee carrying the coverage is that the fair market value of their partners insurance coverage is considered part of the employees income. If an employer pays for any part of a domestic partners health insurance, that employee benefit is taxable and must be reported on the employees W-2 as imputed income.
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Do Children Of Domestic Partners Qualify
If your insurance provider or employer issues you domestic partner health insurance, your partners children should be eligible for the family plans your provider supplies.
Coverage of children typically includes any biological children, step-children, and legally adopted children in either partners custody. However, the extent of coverage is contingent on the type of health insurance. Like many factors in the healthcare industry, these kinds of benefits are determined on a case-by-case basis.
What Are Other Options To Get Health Insurance Benefits For Domestic Partners
While same-sex marriage is now legal in the United States, more and more people are also in unmarried, cohabiting relationships. If you are in domestic partnership and lacking the associated health insurance benefits, you can explore family health insurance plans available in the , where some plans will offer domestic partnership health insurance benefits. The official recommendation from the government, however, is to include an unmarried domestic partner in a family plan only if you have a child together or if youll be claiming your domestic partner as a tax dependent. In some cases, it may be cheaper for both of you to enroll in individual Marketplace plans. Especially if one or both of you qualify for subsidies.
You can also explore off-Marketplace private insurance options, but be aware that these plans do not have to offer all the benefits afforded you by the Affordable Care Act.
Who Qualifies For Domestic Partner Health Insurance
In short, there are no universal qualifications for domestic partner health insurance, as federal law does not account for or clearly define domestic partnerships. As outlined by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the standards for two individuals to be legally recognized as domestic partners vary from state to state.
How Do We Prove We’re In A Domestic Partnership
The rules vary by state and health insurance administrators, but most companies will require you to sign a form that makes several declarations as to your relationship as a domestic partner. These declarations include things like: youve lived together for at least six months and intend to live together indefinitely, your relationship is public, and neither of you are married.
Your employer or health insurance administrator might also require you to provide documentation to prove your relationship. This could include a copy of both of your drivers licenses that show the same address, ownership of common property like a car or home, a joint bank account or credit card, and designation of each other as the primary beneficiary for life insurance.
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What Is Domestic Partnership
Although it is a term used in many contexts, domestic partnership most often means a status which recognizes an unmarried couple and their children as a family for certain limited purposes, most commonly employee benefits. Some states, cities, and towns have also enacted domestic partner laws, although these may be phased out now that marriage for same-sex couples is legal nationwide. In other contexts, domestic partner is a shorthand term for family, replacing lover, friend, and roommate. Some people call cohabitation agreements domestic partner agreements. For further information see GLAD publications on domestic partnership at: www.glad.org/rights/publications/c/relationships/.
California Expands Eligibility For Domestic Partnership
August 29, 2019by Emerald LawinCompliance
On July 30, 2019, California passed SB 30 , which changes the requirements for domestic partnership under California law. The bill expands domestic partnership eligibility by eliminating the requirement that individuals be of the same sex or of the opposite sex and over the age of 62 in order to enter into a registered domestic partnership.
Since California law requires carriers to treat registered domestic partners the same as spouses, carriers will be required to provide coverage to newly eligible individuals who register as domestic partners. In addition, certain employers will be required to enroll newly registered domestic partners of their California employees onto their health plan.
How does SB30 change the requirements of a registered domestic partnership in California?
In general, individuals can become domestic partners if they meet the criteria under Section 297 of the Family Code and file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership or a Confidential Declaration of Partnership.
SB30 makes the following changes to the domestic partnership requirements:
How do the new requirements for domestic partnership affect health care benefits?
Are employers required to offer coverage to domestic partners if they offer coverage to spouses?
What are administrative considerations when enrolling a new domestic partner?
Documentation of Domestic Partnership
Enrollment of New Domestic Partners
Employer Next Steps:
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Health Insurance Companies Hold The Cards
To protect themselves from fraud, health insurance companies have specific guidelines regarding the benefits for domestic partnerships and unmarried couples.
Conditions may require that the partner share the same address as the insured. To considered as a spouse, individuals cannot already be married and cannot be related to the policy holder.
Whether or not your health insurance company will allow the addition of an unmarried spouse is difficult to say definitively.
There are many factors that go into the final decision including the laws of the 50 states involved, the employer, the insurer and the policy itself.
If your partner can be added to your policy, there may still be a waiting period that delays coverage for a certain number of months.
Do Your Research And Communicate
Its important to determine if your state and insurance provider or employer will acknowledge a domestic partnership and issue domestic partnership health insurance. The first step you should take is to reach out to your employer and inquire about their policies.
If your employer does not provide domestic partnership coverage, there are options to find a plan that extends coverage via insurance exchanges or private insurance companies.
In circumstances like these, you can discuss waiving employee insurance or negotiating a new deal altogether, which can be reached if you communicate with your companys human resources representative.
Another approach is to scope out your partners employee benefits packages to see if their employer may offer domestic partners coverage. When it comes to obtaining quality coverage, communication is key.
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Domestic Partnerships And Health Insurance
Some cities, states, and private employers offer domestic partner benefits to their employees. And before same-sex marriage became legal, several states had passed laws creating domestic partnerships and/or civil unions which allowed same-sex couples to register their unions in order to obtain the same or similar state marriage benefits that married couples enjoyed. Since the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country, many states have eliminated civil unions and domestic partnerships. However, a handful of states continue to allow them.
If you’re in a domestic partnership state, you might be able to obtain insurance for your partner. A majority of the country’s largest corporations offer domestic partner benefits. You can find a list of Fortune 500 companies that provide domestic partner benefits, as well as other information on benefits, on the Human Rights Campaign website. You can also contact your human resource director to see if your employer offers health insurance to domestic partners.
Even if your employer does provide domestic partner health benefits, federal law does not recognize domestic partners as spouses for tax purposes. Tax law treats any premium you pay to cover your domestic partner to be taxable income, not a pre-tax deduction from income as it is when the employee is covering a spouse.
What Is A Domestic Partnership
Domestic Partnerships, as defined by the United States Office of Personnel Management, are committed relationships between two unmarried partners of the same or opposite sex with the following stipulations:
- The partners are and intend to remain one anothers only domestic partner.
- They live together in a shared residence.
- The members of the partnership are both at least 18 years old.
- The partners share financial responsibility.
- Both partners are not married or a member of a joint civil union with anyone else.
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Health Insurance Agents Or Brokers
Health insurance agents or brokers may be able to help you find the perfect health insurance plan.
Health insurance agents work for a single company. Brokers can offer plans from multiple companies.
Ideally, a broker would give you more health insurance options and a better chance of finding the best plan.
Agents and brokers can answer any questions you have about obtaining health insurance.
They may also be able to answer questions about your particular situation with your domestic partner.
Health Insurance Laws For Unmarried And Same Sex Couples
Large number of private and government employers extend insurance coverage to incorporate common law marriages and domestic partnerships of same and opposite-sex couples.
Laws vary from state to state, so not every couple has the same support from legislators across the nation.
Same-sex marriages are legal in some states, and in other states such couples can register for civil unions and domestic partnerships.
In these states, couples enjoy some of the same benefits guaranteed to married couples. However, these rules often exclude opposite sex couples on the grounds that they already have the legal right to marry.
For example, state agencies in Alaska offer the same benefits to domestic partnerships that married public employees receive.
In 2005, that states Supreme Court ruled that government workers are able to add their unmarried spouses to their insurance policies.
Private companies in Alaska are not held to the same standard as government employers as a result of the ruling.
In Connecticut, same-sex unions are performed by the state, but common law marriages are not recognized. Therefore, an opposite sex spouse may not be able to receive benefits from a partners health insurer in some cases.
On the other hand, California has some of the broadest and most inclusive domestic partnership statutes.
Most state and local employees, as well as many workers in the private sector, are able to add their unmarried spouses to their policies in the Golden State.
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What If Im Divorced Or Separated
If youre legally separated, your spouse can remove you from his or her health plan. With a divorce, your spouse legally cant keep you on his or her health plan. However, your dependents can stay on your spouses plan if they dont have any other coverage.
Divorce and legal separation are considered qualifying events for special enrollment. Special enrollment is a time when you can change health plans outside of open enrollment.
During that period, you could get new coverage through your employer, the marketplace or qualify for COBRA coverage through your spouses employer-sponsored group health plan for up to three years. You could also check to see if youre eligible for your states Medicaid program.
What Does Domestic Partnership Mean For Health Insurance
Health insurance coverage for domestic partnerships varies by insurance company and location. When shopping on the health insurance , you can list your partner as a household member as long as you share a child together and/or claim your partner as a tax dependent.
You can call health insurance companies directly and ask if they recognize domestic partnerships. If they do, youll be able to include any of your biological, step-, or legally-adopted children on your plan, as well.
Inside tip If youre unable to find family coverage, you can enroll in individual plans. This can actually be a more affordable option if one of you is eligible for subsidized prices.
If you live in an area that recognizes domestic partnerships, your employer may include domestic partners on their group health plans. Keep in mind that if your employer helps pay for your partners coverageand if your partner is not an IRS-qualifying dependentyou will need to report those contributions as taxable income on your W-2. COBRA coverage is notextended to domestic partners or spouses.
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