Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Effects on Health Insurance Plans

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage, employers across the country have been left to determine how the landmark decision will affect their benefit offerings to employees in same-sex relationships.

It is anticipated that domestic-partner benefits will decline over the next year as employers complete their annual evaluation of their offerings this year. According to Aon Hewitt, currently an estimated 77% of employers currently offer same-sex domestic partner heath care coverage. However many employers extended these benefits to employees because gay couples didn’t have the right to marry in many states, but now that marriage is legal for them nationwide, many companies may choose to drop domestic-partner benefits.

Each employer will have to weigh the pros and cons of modifying their benefit offerings for their organization. Doeren Mayhew’s Insurance Group shares some things for each employer to consider:

  • The amount of same-sex couple employees a company currently has may make a difference in a decision. Determining how many will be affected by a modification or elimination of domestic-partner benefits, as well as the value the employees place  on having these available needs to be considered.
  • Domestic-partner benefits programs can be complicated to administer. Having all your benefits to account for spousal relationships only, regardless if opposite-sex or same-sex, can make it easier for the employer to manage them all under one umbrella.
  • Employees can be taxed on the value of domestic-partner benefits –  unlike the benefits provided to opposite-sex married couples. Each employer is required to calculate the amount.
  • Self-funded employers with strong religious connection might consider not offering benefits to same-sex couples that would conflict with their values.

Until the government provides guidance there is still a lot of uncertainty on how this game-changing ruling will impact employee benefits across the board.

Wondering what your options are for offering health care insurance to your same-sex couple employees? Contact an employee benefit specialist at Doeren Mayhew Insurance Group to explore all your options and their related cost and effects.