MT Insurer Adds Small Firm Domestic Partner Coverage

March 15, 2006 ( - Montana's biggest health insurer announced that it intends to offer coverage to domestic partners of employees of small businesses, extending what is already available through its large-business policies.

The domestic partner coverage will be available to same-sex or opposite-sex partners of the covered employee as of July 1, according to a news report in the Helena Independent Record.

State Representative Christine Kaufmann, co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, said the change helps reduce discrimination against same-sex couples in the workplace.

“I think (Blue Cross) knows that small businesses and groups are looking for this type of policy to provide to their employees, to be competitive in the workforce,” Kaufmann said. “For those of us who care that we live in a society that is attempting to rid itself of discrimination, this is a victory.”

Blue Cross, which writes or administers health insurance for 232,000 people in Montana, already has large-group policies that cover domestic partners of the insured employee, regardless of sex.

On July 1, the domestic partner offer will be part of small-group policies for businesses that employ two to 50 people. Those policies currently cover about 19,000 people in Montana.

Kaufmann conceded that the change will affect “a minority of clients,” but said it is still a significant move by Blue Cross.

“This is good news and we’re glad that Blue Cross Blue Shield is being more responsive to the needs of small groups and small businesses,” she told the newspaper.