Empire State Gives Same-Sex Benefits to Public Employees' Partners

May 8, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Same-sex partners of employees participating in New York state's Health Insurance Program will get health and welfare benefits under a new policy.

Under a new approach by the New York Department of Civil Service, eligible employees have until May 31 to enroll their partners for this year, but they will also be able to add dependents at the next and subsequent open enrollments, the department said in a news release.

The agency administers the state program that provides coverage to 1.2 million employees, retirees and dependents of state government as well as to employees of 800 public entities including school and fire districts, counties and cities, according to a Business Insurance news report.

Although participating employees can obtain coverage for their same-sex domestic partners, so far the majority of employees that have enrolled in the program have been heterosexual, the report said.

The same-sex partners are eligible if they are legally married in such places asMassachusetts, Canada, Spain, Belgium, South Africa and the Netherlands – jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage, the department said.

The state is also making available to the same-sex partners include the New York State Vision Program, Management Confidential Life Insurance Program, New York Public Employee and Retiree Long Term Care Program and the New York State Dental Insurance Program, according to the department.