USF Adds Domestic Partner Health Coverage

January 25, 2010 ( partners of university workers at the Tampa-based University of South Florida (USF) will now be eligible for health benefit coverage under a new plan approved by university officials.

The St. Petersburg Times reported that about 6,000 of the 13,000 USF workers are eligible for benefits and would be able to apply for the new coverage.

USF officials have budgeted $500,000 for the new coverage, anticipating that about 1% of those eligible will actually apply, based on the experience of other employers around the country, according to the Times. The benefits are available for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Money to fund the new benefit will not be drawn from state contributions or from the university’s foundation. USF has said in the past that such a benefit could be funded by special revenue such as concessions.

According to the Times, employees’ partners can obtain the benefits only if they are not eligible for benefits elsewhere and have exhausted their COBRA benefits. If they meet that criterion, the university will provide $500 per month to fund the benefits.

Employees and their partners applying for the benefit will have to file a declaration with the university saying they have lived and shared financial responsibilities together for at least six months and are in an emotionally committed relationship. Employed partners will also have to prove their employer does not already provide such benefits.

They also must meet at least three of 11 other criteria, including owning property, having bank accounts or holding credit cards jointly, having a driver’s license with the same address, having legal guardianship of dependents together, or designating each other as beneficiaries for life insurance or retirement plans.