The OHSU benefits office recently sent an email to employees who currently have domestic partner and domestic partner child coverage. The email read:
“Last year, OHSU announced its intent to end benefits coverage for domestic partners and the children of domestic partners. The Employee Benefits Council recently reviewed this decision and the timing of implementation, and has decided to further postpone this change for an additional year.
With this delay, all coverage of domestic partners and domestic partner children will continue until Dec. 31, 2019. Employees who wish to add domestic partners or domestic partner children to their benefits may do so through the end of 2018. No new enrollments will be allowed beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
The EBC will continue to monitor the accessibility of affordable health insurance alternatives and will re-evaluate the proposed change in 2018, prior to its effective date.
Please contact our office with any questions.
As things currently sit, employees may still add domestic partners and dependents thru the end of 2018. The employee benefits council will revisit this topic in 2018 before anything goes into effect.
The decision to offer domestic partner benefits in the first place was made some time ago. The original intent was to offer a benefit for employees who wanted to cover a partner or dependents, but weren’t able to legally marry their partner. After the 2015 Supreme Court ruling, this rationale is no longer valid.
Current marriage options aside, there is still a subset of the OHSU population who prefer to cover their family thru a domestic partner benefit.
While we believe that family is family, there is a very lose definition of what’s required under the current domestic partner language. The 2017 eligibility language requires that partners: “Currently reside together and intend to do so for the foreseeable future.”
The issue is that some domestic partner employees will change their partners and dependents multiple times within a 12 month time frame. The plan is obligated to cover everyone, every time and it generates a significant cost. While it’s not the role of the EBC to be the lifestyle police, we do have a fiduciary responsibility to our stakeholders on how the health plan is managed and how employees benefit dollars are spent. This type of behavior was never how the benefit was intended to be utilized when it was created.
When the Employee Benefits Council voted to extend the sunset this year, we also were able to change the eligibility language. The new language states: “The two individual have jointly shared the same permanent residence for at least twelve (12) months immediately preceding the addition of the Domestic Partner and intend to continue to indefinitely share the same permanent residence.”
While AFSCME can’t speak for the full EBC, the new language goes into effect in 2018 and we believe it will sufficiently address the problem. Recognizing that, it’s likely that the EBC will vote to lift the sunsets but maintain the new language when this topic is revisited in 2018.