Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage for Same-Sex Couples

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage for Same-Sex Couples
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Use this checklist to help determine if you or your same-sex partner can receive employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. Learn more today.

Historically, employer-sponsored health insurance coverage wasn’t as widely available for same-sex couples as it was for opposite-sex couples. But that’s all changing.

 According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 98 percent of all large employers (200 or more employees) offer health benefits and 55 percent of small employers (3 to 199 employees) do so as well.

According to Todd Solomon, a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and author of Guide to Benefits for Domestic Partners and Same-Gender Couples, employer-sponsored coverage for unmarried partners, including same-sex partners, often depends on the company's size and other factors like the market in which the company operates.

No matter where you live, or what size company you work for, answering these questions can help make sure your spouse or partner gets the coverage he or she needs — whether from your employer or elsewhere.

Does Your Employer Provide Same-Sex Benefits?

With the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling, all fifty states must lawfully perform and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples with all of the accompanying rights and responsibilities.

If you are married to someone of the same sex who has employer-provided insurance, you are entitled to the same health insurance benefits offered under the plan that are provided to opposite-sex couples; however, employers are not obligated to offer benefits to domestic partnerships. 

Can Your Partner Obtain Health Insurance Coverage Elsewhere?

Even if your company offers domestic partner benefits, if you’re unmarried, it may be more cost-effective to seek insurance separately.

"For unmarried partners, it is virtually always better to obtain coverage separately than to obtain coverage together because benefits for unmarried partners are tax-inefficient," Solomon says. "If you’re in a same-sex partnership, and your partner accepts coverage on your plan, you’re generally going to pay taxes on that coverage unless you’re married."

Your partner might be able to obtain employer-sponsored coverage through his or her own employer, or purchase individual coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Solomon says that individuals who meet income requirements may also qualify for tax credits or cost-sharing subsidies that reduce the cost of coverage.

Asking the right questions is the best way to ensure you and your spouse or partner get the health insurance coverage you need.

Learn more about unique considerations when obtaining health insurance with your partner.

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