The main concern that same sex couples have when looking for a health insurance policy is this: how do I find a fair and affordable health insurance plan that covers both myself and my partner? The good news is that finding such a policy is much easier to do now than it was twenty years ago.
In 1981, the city of San Francisco created the legal term “domestic partners” which would help extend benefits to an employee’s unmarried partner. The term applies to both same and different sex couples. In 1982 the Village Voice in New York City became the first private employer to offer domestic partner benefits. Today, more than 4,476 private employers, non-profit organizations, and unions offer domestic partner benefits.
Health Insurance Options for Same Sex Couples
Even if your employer or private insurance company does offer coverage for domestic partners, there is still a little bit of work to be done in order to prove that you qualify for the plan. First, you must prove that your relationship fits the requirements for domestic partnership. Though the requirements differ from company to company, you will probably find the following similarities amongst all descriptions.
- You have lived together for six months are longer, are not married to your partner or any other person, and you are not related to your partner.
- You are responsible for each other financially. You have joint checking accounts, and share financial responsibilities such as rent or mortgage payments.
- You are listed with your local domestic partner registry (if available in your area).
Once you prove your qualification for domestic partnership, you still may have to sustain a waiting period before your partner’s benefits take effect. Waiting periods can be as long as a year. If you or your partner has to wait for insurance to take effect, consider a short term health insurance program to sustain you in the meantime.
If you are in a same sex couple relationship and wish to apply for a joint health insurance policy, you will have much greater luck today than you would have had twenty years ago. But that’s not to say that finding a policy will be a piece of cake. If your employer does not offer domestic partner coverage, consider researching private health insurance companies for a policy that will cover you and your partner.