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NY: gays in small NYC firms now eligible for domestic partner benefits

Another big woohoo for the Big Apple and equality. (365gay.com):

Employees of large companies statewide had been covered for some, and although the companies had been offering domestic partner benefits to small companies outside New York City, they had resisted extending that to the Big Apple which has the nation’s largest LGBT community. Businesses with fewer than fifty employees were not permitted to add a rider to their existing policy to provide domestic partner health coverage, even if they wanted to.

For employers that believed it was important to provide all employees the opportunity to insure their loved ones, it meant having the employee purchase an expensive individual policy for their partner and then bearing the cost by reimbursing the employee for the policy. “This was never a realistic or economical solution to what is a critical problem for our families,” said Alan Van Capelle, Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director.

…Following meetings with the mayor this week Group Health Incorporated (GHI), Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, HIP Health Plans of New York, and Horizon Healthcare Insurance Company of New York said they would begin offering the benefits.

For too long, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees working for small businesses have had to dig deep into their pockets, if they could even afford it, to pay for expensive individual health policies for their loved ones,” said Van Capelle.

“Now, small businesses that want to do the right thing and provide all their employees the ability to insure their partners will be able to do so at a reasonable economic rate. Conversely, small businesses that continue to discriminate by offering their straight employees one set of health benefits and their LGBT employees a lesser set of health benefits will no longer be able to hide behind the claim that domestic partner health coverage is not available.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding