Will Health Insurance Companies Play Ball With Recognizing Multi-Partner Domestic Relationships?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/07/13/will-health-insurance-companies-play-ball-with-recognizing-multi-partner-domestic-relationships/

Late last month, the city of Somerville became the first place in America to officially recognize domestic relationships of three or more people. 

The top reason cited by city councilors was so that unmarried people could add their live-in partners to their health insurance plans amid the coronavirus pandemic, as New Boston Post previously reported.

Last-minute amendments to the ordinance before it passed ensure it does not limit the number of members in the relationship. That means such a relationship could include three people, seven people, or — as one city councilor put it — 20 people.

It’s a choice the city councilors made, but how do health insurance companies feel about it? Will they be on board with it, or not?

New Boston Post reached out to more than 10 health insurance providers on Thursday for comment and followed up with them on Friday. None of them responded.

However, the domestic partnership policies of eight of those companies may offer clues.

Many health insurance companies will allow people to add domestic partners to their health insurance plans, under certain conditions.

In the cases of Tufts Health Plan, Aetna, and Cigna, language on the company’s domestic partnership affidavits explicitly states that polyamorous relationships are ineligible for the plan.

For Cigna, an applicant is required to affirm:  “Neither of us is married to any other person, is a party to a civil union with any other person, or has any other domestic partner.”

Aetna’s is also direct, stating:  “We are each other’s sole domestic partner, and we intend to remain so indefinitely.”

And Tufts offers only one spot on its application to enroll a domestic partner. One requirement for that enrollment for those two partners is that “We have not signed a domestic partner affidavit with any other person within the last 12 months.”

Similarly, Harvard Pilgrim’s administrative guide limits coverage to one domestic partner. One of the types of people it says are eligible for coverage is what the guide calls “The subscriber’s sole domestic partner in accordance with HPHC’s eligibility guidelines.”

Some other companies that do business in Massachusetts have language in their requirements that imply that an applicant for health insurance has only one domestic partner.

Humana, for instance, says an applicant must have “Copy of the Domestic Partner Affidavit (signed by you and your partner).”

The final sentence of Fallon Community Health Plan’s domestic partner guidelines says, in part, “If these requirements are met, an employee may change his or her contract to include a domestic partner.”

Community Health Options’ eligibility guidelines say that the subscriber can add the subscriber’s “legal spouse or legal domestic partner as recognized under applicable state law.”; and UnitedHealthCare’s enrollment document only has space for one spouse or domestic partner.

Although Somerville is the only municipality in America that recognizes polyamorous relationships, two members of the Cambridge City Council told New Boston Post earlier this week that they would support a similar ordinance in their neighboring city.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, who signed the new Somerville ordinance Monday, June 29 with no announcement and no public comment, could not be reached for this story.