In light of the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing same-gender marriage, Mercer surveyed HR and business professionals about their intentions regarding domestic partner coverage.
Employers that offer domestic partner coverage to same-gender couples only are more likely to drop it than those offering it to all couples, Mercer found. Of those plan sponsors that offer domestic partner coverage to same-gender partners only, 8% have already dropped it in states that legalized same-gender marriage before the ruling. Another 23% say they will drop it for this year’s open-enrollment period, and another 23% will consider dropping it in two to three years.
Plan sponsors that offer the benefit to same-gender as well as opposite-gender partners said they are less likely, at 8%, to drop it this year. Just 4% have already done so in states where same-gender marriage was legal. Twenty-six percent will consider dropping the coverage in the next two to three years. The majority (62%) is not considering it.
Key findings from Mercer’s quick poll are:
- 55% of those polled offer domestic partner coverage to same-gender as well as opposite-gender couples;
- 19% offer it to same-gender only; and
- 25% don’t offer the benefit.
“The decision to drop domestic partner coverage would certainly eliminate the administrative problems that come with offering it,” says Tracy Watts, Mercer’s health care reform leader. “When an employer drops domestic partner coverage, couples will essentially be required to marry or lose coverage. For the couples who prefer not to marry—same-sex or opposite-sex—a change in policy could have far-reaching impact. So employers need to weigh attraction and retention needs as well as organizational culture in the decision.”
Mercer polled 153 HR and business leaders about their intentions regarding domestic partner coverage. Survey results and related commentary can be found on Mercer’s health care reform blog.