Almost half of all Americans (49%) receive health insurance coverage for themselves and their immediate family members through their employers. In order to establish a “family” relationship, adult partners used to need a legal certificate of marriage. Now, due to the efforts of LGBTQ+ activists who campaigned on behalf of couples once barred from marriage, the federal government has extended employee healthcare benefits to domestic partners, and the private sector is following suit.
What that means is, you may be able to share health care benefits with your partner, even if you’re not married. It’s called domestic partnership health insurance coverage, and here’s a quick primer with everything you need to know.
What is a domestic partnership?
Domestic partnership is a legal status for unmarried couples who live together and have a committed personal relationship. There are no federal guidelines defining domestic partnerships so the exact definition is up to individual states. According to the HR consulting service, Aon Hewitt, 77% of large employers offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples and 51% offer benefits to opposite-sex couples.
How do you prove a domestic partnership to gain health insurance benefits?
Check with your health insurance administrator or employee benefits administrator to find out if your company’s plan includes a domestic partnership option. If you have private insurance, outside of an employer, check with your agent. You may be asked to sign a form affirming the following:
- You and your partner have shared the same regular and permanent residence for at least six months to a year with the intent to continue doing so indefinitely.
- You are known as a couple to the public.
- Neither you nor your partner is married to another person or in a domestic partnership with another person.
- You are jointly financially responsible for “basic living expenses” (the cost of basic food, shelter, etc). You may have to prove this with documentation.
What documents demonstrate shared financial responsibility?
Under certain health care policies, you may have to provide some of these documents as proof of your domestic partnership:
- Joint deed, mortgage agreement, common ownership of a car or other property
- Driver’s licenses listing a common address
- Proof of joint bank accounts or credit card accounts and loans
- Designation as the primary beneficiary for life insurance, retirement benefits, or under a partner’s will
- Assignment of power of attorneys
Which states offer domestic partnership benefits?
Some states and cities recognize domestic partnerships. This means that within these localities, couples involved in domestic partnerships are legally entitled to the same benefits as married couples. Here’s a chart that breaks things down by state. (Sources: Legal Match & Unmarried.org)
♦ States That Do Not Recognize Domestic Partnerships
♦ States That Partially Extend Domestic Partnership Benefits
♦ States That Extend Domestic Partnership Benefits Throughout
|Arizona||Benefits extended in the cities of Tucson and Phoenix|
|California||-Benefits extended in the cities of Berkeley, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Petaluma, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and West Hollywood
-Benefits extended in the counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Ventura
-Registries maintained in the cities of Arcata, Berkeley, Cathedral City, Davis, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Oakland, Palo Alto, Sacramento, and San Francisco; and in the counties of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara
|Colorado||Benefits extended and domestic partner registry maintained in the city of Denver|
|Connecticut||-Benefits extended throughout state.
-Registry maintained in the city of Hanford
|Florida||-Benefits extended in the city of West Palm Beach
-Benefits extended and registry maintained in Broward County
|Georgia||Benefits extended and registry maintained in the city of Atlanta|
|Hawaii||State extends benefits and maintains a domestic partnership registry|
|Illinois||-Benefits extended in the city of Chicago, and Cook County
-Benefits extended and registry maintained in Oak Park City
|Indiana||Benefits extended in the city of Bloomington|
|Iowa||Benefits extended and registry maintained in Iowa City|
|Louisiana||Benefits extended in the city of New Orleans|
|Maine||Benefits extended and registry maintained in the city of Portland|
|Maryland||-Benefits extended in the cities of Baltimore and Takoma Park, and in Montgomery County|
|Massachusetts||-Benefits extended in the cities of Boston, Brookline, Brewster, Nantucket, Springfield, and Provincetown
-Domestic partner registries maintained in the cities of Boston, Brewster, Brookline, Nantucket, Cambridge, and Northampton
|Michigan||-Benefits extended in the city of Kalamazoo, and in Washtenaw and Wayne Counties
-Benefits and registries maintained in the cities of Ann Arbor, East Lansing
|Minnesota||Benefits extended and registry maintained in the city of Minneapolis|
|Missouri||Registry maintained in the city of St. Louis|
|Nevada||State extends benefits and maintains a domestic partnership registry|
|New Hampshire||Not recognized|
|New Jersey||Benefits extended in the city of Delaware|
|New Mexico||Benefits extended in the city of Albuquerque|
|New York||-Benefits extended in the cities of Brighton, Eastchester, Ithaca, Rochester, New York City, as well as Westchester County
-Registry maintained in the cities of Ithaca, Albany, New York City, and Rochester
|North Carolina||-Benefits extended and registry in the city of Chapel Hill
-Registry maintained in the city of Carrboro
|North Dakota||Not recognized|
|Oregon||-Benefits extended throughout entire state
-Registry provided in the city of Ashland
|Pennsylvania||Benefits extended in the city of Philadelphia|
|Rhode Island||Not recognized|
|South Carolina||Not recognized|
|Texas||Benefits extended in Travis County|
|Vermont||Benefits extended throughout state|
|Virginia||Benefits extended in Arlington County|
|Washington||-Benefits extended throughout state
-Registries maintained in the city of Lacey and the city of Seattle
|West Virginia||Not recognized|
|Wisconsin||-Benefits extended in the city of Madison, the city of Sherwood Hills Village, and in Dane County
-Registry maintained in the city of Milwaukee