Most Law Firms Offer Same Sex Partner Benefits

January 22, 2004 ( - The majority of law firms participating in a recent survey offered medical benefits to domestic partners of their employees while two-thirds of that group made it available to both same sex and opposite-sex couples.

According to The Segal Company survey of 200 of the largest US law firms, the lion’s share of legal shops offered that medical coverage through preferred provider organization (PPO) plans (82%). Some 57% offered HMO coverage, while 48% had point-of-service programs (POS). A scant 17% had indemnity plans.

For employees using in-network providers, the median plan demands a $100 individual deductible, a $250 family deductible and $15 copays, according to Segal. Use of out-of-network providers required a $500 deductible for an individual, and a $1,000 family deductible.

Employees contributed an average 39% to a PPO plan, 38% to an HMO plan, 38% to a POS plan and 33% with an indemnity health program. Segal said higher level workers with more responsibility were generally required to shoulder more of their health costs. For example, in a PPO plan, non-legal workers and paralegals had to chip in 15% while senior lawyers had to pay 25%.

The large law shops had average health coverage cost increases of 14.5% between 2002 and 2003 and instituted increased worker contributions and negotiated with their benefit carrier to help hold down the added fiscal burden, Segal said.

The Segal poll also found that 93% of the law firms offered dental plans while 58% offered vision programs. Segal said many health plans already include a vision component.

Segal researchers also found that 26 weeks of short-term disability was the average leave while long-term disability replaced about two-thirds of pay. Most firms provided a fixed amount for senior employees’ disability coverage, but most gave lower-down workers a multiple of their pay for the benefit.

Finally, less than half (48%) of the law firms offered paid parental leave, according to Segal.