Can I add my boyfriend or girlfriend to my health insurance?

Fewer and fewer people are getting married each year, simply deciding to skip the ceremony and cohabitate instead.  For millions of Americans, this brings the question as to whether this life partner can be added to their insurance.

With marriage equality evolving over the past decades, so has health insurance, with many companies offering coverage for a domestic partner and dependents of a domestic partner.

What is a domestic partnership?

A domestic partnership is when two people live their lives together and share a domestic life as if their were married, but they are not married or joined by a civil union. 

A domestic partnership is very similar to a marriage and provides some of the legal benefits that married couples enjoy and in some states a domestic partnership is also know as a civil union.

Some of the benefits of a domestic partnership include the ability to add you partner to you health insurance,  legal rights to raise children or adopt them, housing rights, tax rights, and may be eligible for sick leave and bereavement.  Other benefits include visitation rights in hospitals and inheritance rights. 

Domestic partnerships are not recognized in all states.  Even still, some employers have taken it upon themselves to extend their group benefits to the significant other of the employee.  If your employer does offer these benefits, you will most likely need to sign an affidavit confirming that you meet the requirements, after which the added person would have all of the same benefits a married spouse would have. 

There are no federal laws that require employers to include domestic partners in their benefits plan.

Who qualifies as a domestic partner?

Because a domestic partnership is defined by the state in which you life, requirements can vary.  That said, typically, it requires pretty much what a marriage does.  You can’t be related, you need to be over 18, and you need to have been in a close & committed personal relationship for around 6 months.  

Insurance company requirements, if your state does not recognize domestic partnerships, can vary also as each company defines who qualifies as a ‘domestic partner’ in their own way.

Can I add my boyfriend or girlfriend?

Probably not.  Among the qualifications for ‘domestic partnership’ is that you have been living together for 6+ months & intend to do so indefinitely and that you share financial responsibility for living expenses.

Boyfriends and girlfriends do not typically meet these requirements and would not be eligible to obtain coverage.

Can I add my fiance?

Maybe.  If you are living apart before you are married, then probably not.  But, if you are already in what could be defined as an established domestic partnership, then you may be able to qualify on those ground.

Are the children of my domestic partner covered?

Yes.  Children of an eligible domestic partner are covered under health insurance plans.

What states recognize domestic partnerships?

According to the NCSL, California, D.C., Maine, Nevada, Oregano, Washington state, and Wisconsin recognize domestic partnership.

New Jersey, Vermont, Hawaii, Colorado, and Illinois allow civil union (this provides the same benefits as a domestic partnership for insurance purposes).

Are there any protections for people in domestic partnerships?

A domestic partnerships are not federally recognized, so it falls on the individual states.  Some states allow hospital visitation and medical decision making benefits, others do not.  Some states require that one of the individuals be over age 62.

What is allowed and not allowed varies greatly based on where you live and you need to check your local laws to understand your rights fully.

Because domestic partners are not recognized federally, Medicare, Medicaid, and the IRS do not offer any benefits.  This means that premiums paid for the domestic partner are considered income for tax purposes.  This means that the employee will have to pay income and FICA taxes on those premiums every pay check.

Takeaways

If your state recognizes domestic partnerships, or if your job-based insurance is offered to domestic partners regardless of state, then you may have the ability to add this person to your insurance plan.  There will be specific requirements that you both need to meet, and the premiums will be taxes like ordinary income.

But, your significant other and other dependents will have health coverage.

For help determining if this is the best route for you, give us a call so we can talk.

Aaron

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