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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 24, 2022

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The Lowdown

  • Most states don’t mandate health insurance for domestic partners or recognize domestic partnerships
  • Many private companies that offer domestic partner benefits also include group health insurance
  • There are several options to consider for adding your domestic partner to your health insurance plan

Let us provide answers to these commonly asked questions. Can you purchase health insurance for domestic partners? If so, how long do you have to live with someone to be a domestic partner for health insurance purposes? Also, why is health insurance so expensive for domestic partners instead of spouses?

The rules for health insurance may appear complicated for domestic partners. First, there is no federal mandate for employers to offer benefits to domestic partners. Also, the rules regarding domestic partnerships differ among states and municipalities.

That said, some public and private sector employers allow domestic partners to share employee benefits like health, dental, vision, and sick leave benefits. Also, some private health insurance companies are willing to offer coverage for domestic partners. But you need to find the right health insurance company for your needs.

Read on to know more about domestic partnerships, which health insurance companies provide coverage for domestic partners, and how you can get coverage. To get quotes from top health insurance companies in your area, enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool.

What is a domestic partnership?

A domestic partnership involves two people living together as if they are married. Yet the two people in a domestic partnership are not married, nor are they in a civil union.

Although the Federal Office of Personnel Management outlines nine characteristics of domestic partnerships, no federal law recognizes such a relationship. However, your relationship can gain legal recognition in states where you can register.

Before marriage equality was recognized throughout the U.S., only same-sex couples were considered domestic partnerships. Now heterosexual couples may enter into these agreements, and they do not have to be married.

All couples in domestic partnerships must abide by state and local laws regarding these partnerships and the employers’ rules. For example:

  • Both partners in a domestic relationship must be at least 18 years old.
  • In some states and municipalities, one person in a domestic relationship needs to be at least 62 years to register their partnership.
  • Some states require partners to fill out registration forms in front of a notary public.

In any case, domestic partners must live in the same permanent residence to register their partnership and receive any benefits. However, not all states recognize domestic partnerships, and only a few states offer full benefits to domestic partners.

Domestic partnerships may have limited or full rights in select cities and counties. In some states and municipalities offering full rights, domestic partners may enjoy most of the same rights as married couples.

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How can you add your domestic partner to your health insurance plan?

If you have an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, your employer may extend benefits to domestic partners, but you need to confirm.

To be sure about whether you can include your domestic partner in your employer-sponsored health insurance plan, speak with your company’s benefits plan administrator or a person in the human resources department.

If your employer provides health insurance coverage for domestic partners, you might be required to sign an affidavit to confirm the following about your relationship:

  • You and your partner lived in the same permanent residence for at least six months, and you intend to live together indefinitely.
  • Both partners are at least 18 years old.
  • You and your partner are involved in a relationship and are responsible for each other’s common welfare.
  • The partnership is exclusive, meaning that neither you nor your partner are married to others or otherwise involved with other people.
  • You and your partner are not related by blood, or at least are not closely related to be barred from marrying in your state.
  • The two of you share basic living expenses, food, shelter, and other costs because of your relationship.
  • You were mentally competent to enter into the relationship and any related contracts.

After you and your partner sign the affidavit, your employer might impose a waiting period before you can add your partner to a group health insurance plan. However, if your employer does not extend benefits to domestic partners, you may need to find a private health insurance plan that covers domestic partners.

Fortunately, many top health insurance companies offer coverage for domestic partners. They include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and CIGNA.

Health Insurance for Domestic Partners: The Bottom Line

If you want to know how to apply for health insurance that you and your domestic partner need, you have a few options based on your employer and your state. When looking for a health insurance company, first make sure that they cover domestic partners.

For more information about health insurance for domestic partners, read our FAQ section on this page. When you’re ready to see quotes from top health insurance companies in your area, enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool below.

Frequently Asked Questions About Health Insurance for Domestic Partners

Here are some questions and answers about health insurance for domestic partners, including information about added costs.

#1 — How much does health insurance for domestic partners cost?

Your health insurance costs should be comparable to that of a family of a similar size. Health insurance companies base their rates on various factors, like the level of coverage you need and how many people you insure.

Beyond that, the only increased cost is the domestic partnership health insurance tax. Married couples can generally waive taxes for certain benefits (like health care) they receive through their employer, which often isn’t the case for domestic partnerships.

According to an FAQ page on the Internal Revenue Service website, an employed domestic partner may only deduct their share of health insurance costs, and they may not deduct the cost of their partner’s health insurance coverage.

#2 — Which states recognize domestic partnerships?

These states offer some rights for domestic partners:

States That Extend Some Benefits to Domestic Partners

StateRecognition for Domestic Partnerships
ArizonaPhoenix and Tucson Two cities keep a Civil Union Registry and extend benefits to domestic partners.
ColoradoBoulder and Denver extend benefits and maintain a domestic partner registry (DPR).
FloridaBroward and Palm Beach Counties extend benefits and maintain a DPR.
GeorgiaAtlanta extends benefits and maintains a DPR.
IllinoisChicago, Oak Park, and Cook County extend benefits. Oak Park also maintains a DPR.
IndianaBloomington extends benefits.
IowaIowa city extends benefits and maintains a DPR.
LouisianaNew Orleans extends benefits.
MainePortland extends benefits and maintains a DPR.
MarylandBaltimore and Takoma Park extend benefits.
MassachusettsBoston, Brewster Brookline, Nantucket, Provincetown, and Springfield extend benefits. Boston, Brewster, Brookline, Cambridge, Nantucket, and Northampton each maintain a DPR.
MichiganKalamazoo, Washtenaw County, and Wayne County extend benefits. Ann Arbor and East Lansing also maintain a DPR.
MinnesotaMinneapolis extends benefits and maintains a DPR.
MissouriSt. Louis maintains a DPR.
New MexicoAlbuquerque extends benefits.
New YorkBrighton, Eastchester, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester, and Westchester County extend benefits. Albany, Ithaca, NYC, and Rochester maintain DPRs.
North CarolinaChapel Hill extends benefits and maintains a DPR. Carrboro maintains a DPR.
OhioAthens, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, Dayton, Cuyahoga County, Franklin County, Lakewood, Oberlin, Toledo, and Yellow Springs maintain DPRs.
PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia extends benefits.
TexasTravis County extends benefits.
VirginiaAlexandria extends benefits.
WisconsinMadison extends benefits and maintains a DPR. Sherwood Hills Village and Dane County extend benefits for domestic relationships. Milwaukee maintains a DPR.
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Eight states offer full domestic partnership benefits:

  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. Hawaii (“reciprocal beneficiaries”)
  4. Nevada
  5. New Jersey
  6. Oregon
  7. Vermont
  8. Washington

The District of Columbia also recognizes domestic partnerships.

#3 — Can I add my live-in girlfriend to my health insurance?

Unfortunately, not. Live-in friends do not meet the criteria of civil unions or domestic partnerships. If you and your live-in friend share a child, you might be able to share a health plan. There may be options in the Health Insurance Marketplace. However, you and your live-in friend would need to be domestic partners.

There may be tax requirements relating to everyone in your household before you can add a domestic partner to a health insurance plan through the marketplace. For more information, visit HealthCare.gov.