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Does my health insurance cover my domestic partner?

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The lowdown...
  • Domestic partners can often receive the same insurance benefits as legal spouses
  • Health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance are commonly offered to domestic partners
  • You must verify your status as another person’s domestic partner with supporting documents

Health insurance can be a challenging topic to discuss. With changing rules and regulations, both at the federal and state level, it can prove difficult to remain accurately informed about health insurance.

One of the major challenges to discussing health insurance is trying to decipher who is covered by your health insurance and who is not covered by it.

It can depend upon your plan, what type of insurance you have, and various other factors. Some plans only allow you to add certain people to your health insurance and other plans give you more freedom in covering other people under your plan.

Compare health insurance plans online to find the one that’s right for your situation.

Defining a Domestic Partner

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Before looking at what health insurance coverage may extend to domestic partners, it is important to know exactly what constitutes a domestic partner.

Prior to the Supreme Court ruling about same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships were primarily made up of same-sex partners who were not allowed to marry.

However, following that Supreme Court decision, the nature of domestic partnerships has evolved somewhat.

Some same-sex couples remain in domestic partnerships, but this is only part of the definition. Unmarried couples who live with one another and take part in a shared domestic life are also domestic partners.

Registration as a Domestic Partner

Registration as a domestic partner requires several steps to be completed.

  1. The partners who have the intention to register as domestic partners must first declare the seriousness of their relationship at a courthouse or other official government location, like registration as a domestic partner says.
  2. They must make this declaration in person at a proper government office.
  3. Following this, providing documentation that they pass the registration requirements is necessary. These registration requirements include that both partners are over the age of eighteen, not married, and share a permanent residence.

Common Law Marriage

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A common law marriage is a marriage that has been formally recognized by the law between two people.

Those two people have not bought a marriage license or formalized their marriage with a ceremony, which common law marriage addresses. Only a few states allow this kind of marriage.

Common law marriage typically requires two people to be living together, providing financial support for one another, and intent that establishes their continued commitment to living together.

Of course, documentation supporting all this must also be provided for the common law marriage to be recognized.

Differences between Common Law Marriage and Domestic Partnership

While common law marriage and domestic partnerships are two kinds of unmarried relationships, there are certainly differences between the two.

To start, only a small amount of states in the US recognize common law marriage, a fact stated by common law marriage. In contrast, every state recognizes domestic partnerships as an alternative relationship to traditional marriage.

Additionally, common law marriages do not often gain the same benefits as traditional marriages. Many domestic partnerships do receive similar benefits.

Benefits of a Domestic Partnership

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As stated previously, domestic partnerships receive some legal benefits that are awarded to traditional marriages. These benefits can vary from state to state.

A few common benefits given to domestic partnerships  are:

  • the capability to obtain a health insurance policy for a family
  • the right to leave for bereavement
  • the right to family leave to care for an ill partner as well as visitation rights

While the specific benefits can change from state to state, the above benefits are generally available to those in a domestic partnership. Checking your local laws about such relationships is still a good idea, however.

Insurance Benefits and Domestic Partners

Many insurance benefits provided to domestic partners are identical to such benefits offered to married couples.

Benefits for relocation, bereavement, group life insurance, and long-term care insurance are some examples of benefits like this, which is brought up by domestic partnerships. However, these are not the most common benefits offered to domestic partners.

Health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance are the most common benefits offered to domestic partners.

Required Information Provided by a Domestic Partnership Affidavit

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In the event that you intend to cover your domestic partner under employer-provided health insurance, signing an affidavit is necessary. This affidavit is to ensure coverage is not given to those who are not really domestic partners.

Domestic partnership affidavits require that you are the following:

  • 18 or older
  • living together for a minimum of six months
  • completely unmarried
  • both paying for basic living expenses

It is also required that both parties were mentally competent when the domestic partnership contract was signed and that they both consented to it.

Domestic Partnerships and Taxes

Domestic partnerships can have an effect on your taxes, as well.

If your health benefits are based on your current employment, you can only exclude them from taxable income in the event those who are receiving the benefits are legal spouses or legal dependents.

Federal and state taxes do not apply to benefits for spouses. However, these do apply to benefits received by domestic partners since those relationships are not recognized by the federal government.

Verification Documents for Domestic Partnerships

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How you validate your status as a domestic partner to someone else varies by state.

It also varies depending upon the terms of the insurance plan possessed by the person you are claiming is your domestic partner, something addressed by domestic partners and verification.

It is possible you will not have to submit all of these documents, but these are some documents certain health care plans may require:

  •  a mortgage agreement or joint deed
  • a common address on a driver’s license
  • documents proving a joint bank account
  • primary beneficiary status on a domestic partner’s will
  • power of attorney assignment

Again, it can be different from state to state and from health care plan to health care plan.

Finding a Health Care Plan for You and Your Domestic Partner

Some health care plans allow you add your domestic partner to their coverage. Some do not. Your domestic partner can always look for individual health insurance on the insurance marketplace.

However, if you wish for them to be on your insurance, discuss it with the administrator of your benefits plan and enter a formal request.

Many health care plans provided by an employer will let you add a domestic partner if the plan possesses such coverage, supported by adding a domestic partner to a health insurance plan.

Health Insurance and Domestic Partnerships

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Unfortunately, the question of covering a domestic partnership under your health insurance is not an easy one to answer. Different states have different laws about domestic partnerships and health insurance.

It is best to discuss this matter with your insurance agent for a definitive answer.

Adding a domestic partner to your health insurance is easiest if you can claim them as a dependent. Some plans will let you add them regardless, though.

Compare health insurance quotes now by using our free comparison tool below.

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