NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Little Interest In Partner Benefits

April 27, 1997

Social activists have long pressed employers to offer company health benefits to the partners of unmarried employees, but evidence suggests that few such couples are taking advantage of them.

  • An estimated 500 companies, as well as many colleges, universities, states and municipalities now offer health and other benefits to domestic partners.
  • Although it had been anticipated that participation would be between 3 percent to 4 percent of the workforce where such coverage was made available, the acceptance rate has turned out to be no more than one-half to one percent, according to the Segal Company, a benefits consulting firm.
  • At Apple Computer, for example, only 45 of the firm's nearly 9,600 employees are availing themselves of the program.

Analysts say that one reason the plans are not often used is because both partners in the relationships tend to have jobs and access to health insurance on their own. Income tax rules are also cited as a big disincentive.

Finally, there is the downside of lack of confidentiality. Same-sex partners are often reluctant to provide employers with information on their partners.

Source: Barbara Whitaker, "Partner Benefits Have a Surprising Lack of Takers," New York Times, April 27, 1997.


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