Employers Dropping Domestic Partner Benefits

For Immediate Release
August 1, 2017

Contact:
Brenda Hofmann
brendah@ifebp.org | (262) 373-7756

Employers Dropping Domestic Partner Benefits

A Growing Number of Employers Require Same-Sex Couples to Marry to Receive Health Care Benefits

Brookfield, Wisconsin—Employers are increasingly requiring same-sex couples to legally marry to receive health care benefits, data from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reveals. The trend follows the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

In 2014, one year before the ruling, employers reported that:

  • 51 percent provided benefits to same-sex partners in a civil unions
  • 59 percent provided benefits to same-sex domestic partners
  • 79 percent provided benefits to same-sex spouses.

In 2016, one year after the ruling, the number of employers offering health care benefits to unmarried same-sex couples has dropped. Employers report that:

  • 31 percent are providing benefits to same-sex partners in civil unions (down 20 percent from 2014)
  • 48 percent are providing benefits to same-sex domestic partners (down 11 percent from 2014).

At the same time, the number of employers offering health care benefits to same-sex spouses increased.

  • 86 percent of employers are providing benefits to same-sex spouses (an increase of 7 percent from 2014).

"Domestic partner benefits can be complex to manage, and by offering consistent coverage for opposite-sex and same-sex couples, employers are able to ease some of the administrative burden," explained Julie Stich, CEBS, Associate Vice President of Content at the International Foundation.

Employers are staying true to their earlier intentions. Immediately after the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, three in ten employers reported they were likely to discontinue providing benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

"I wouldn't expect all employers to drop domestic partner benefits," said Stich. "Competitive employers are always working to provide an inclusive benefit package, and offering domestic partner benefits can build a culture of inclusion and help the company attract the best talent."

Larger organizations are the most likely to be maintaining same-sex domestic partner benefits. Three in four organizations (77 percent) with 10,000 or more employees continue to offer domestic partner benefits.

Findings above were drawn from Employee Benefits Survey: 2016 Results, Domestic Partner Benefits After the Supreme Court Decision: 2015 Survey Results and Employee Benefits for Same-Sex Couples: The DOMA Decision One Year Later.

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The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is the premier educational organization dedicated to providing the diverse employee benefits community with objective, solution-oriented education, research and information to ensure the health and financial security of plan beneficiaries worldwide. The Foundation has more than 33,000 multiemployer, corporate and public sector members representing over 25 million lives. For additional information, visit www.ifebp.org.