Commonly, and unluckily, employers do not usually extend the coverage to unmarried partners if they are offering health insurance coverage to the spouses of employees. Employers are not required to offer health insurance to any employees, spouses, or “domestic partners” (the term are often used to include the same-sex couples and unmarried opposite-sex couples, as well as common law marriages) as what is stated under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA also does not constrain employers that provide health insurance for employees and legal dependents to extend coverage to domestic partners.
However, hundreds and thousands of employers across the country have started offering domestic partner benefits in the last several years. The number of employers continues to grow recently. Employment experts anticipate that this new trend will continue as small companies begun to follow the lead of large employers that have introduced domestic partner benefit plan in the recent months.
In addition to that, several state and local laws have currently been passed in favor of domestic partner rights. States like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle do have ordinances that require all businesses with municipal contracts to offer same-sex benefits for unmarried couples. In Vermont, they recently achieve the country’s first “civil union” law. This law grants same-sex couples nearly all of the benefits that the state’s married couples are entitled with. Prearrangements about health insurance are still being written as of now, and the result is still unknown up to this moment.
The level of coverage varies depending on the employer when benefits are offered to domestic partners. Domestic partner benefits might possibly include long-term care, group life insurance, family and bereavement leave, and the most common are, health, dental, and vision insurance. The characterization of domestic partner may possibly vary from employer to employer. Other companies include same-sex couples, unmarried opposite-sex couples, and common law marriages. Some only cover only same-sex partners on the conditions that opposite-sex couples can receive spousal benefits by getting married, while same-sex couples do not have this option. Mindless of how the term is being described, employers do typically still require domestic partner to sign an affidavit which clearly states an assurance that they are in a lasting and committed relationship. They may also possibly require that a couple live together for a specified period of time before they are qualified for the benefits a domestic partner can basically get.