More employers are requiring same-sex couples to marry to receive health benefits

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.
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.
Findings 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.
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.
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. Eighty-six percent of employers are providing benefits to same-sex spouses (an increase of seven 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.
“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.”

SOURCE: International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans press release, August 1, 2017.
Visit our News Library to read more news stories.