KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Same-Sex Couples Often Pay More For Health Coverage

MarketWatch reports on higher health care costs for same-sex couples. "Even in states where same-sex marriages are legal, employers may exclude partners from coverage. When they do provide benefits, federal tax laws mean that workers spend more to insure their same-sex domestic partner and children than their heterosexual counterparts do. Here's why: While the value of health benefits that employers pay on behalf of workers' spouses are excluded from employees' gross income by federal law, same-sex couples aren't extended the same tax break. That is, the value of a domestic partner's health-insurance benefit is counted as income paid to the worker. … A provision in the health-care reform bill originally passed by the House of Representatives last November would have extended tax-free status to all domestic partners and other non-spouse beneficiaries of employer health plans. But it wasn't included in the landmark legislation that President Obama signed into law in March." 

"Large companies are most likely to provide domestic-partner coverage - 59% of Fortune 500 companies include it in their benefits packages, a 12-fold increase since 1995, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates the end of discriminatory practices against LGBT Americans" (Martin, 3/31). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.