Health Insurance Policies

The Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Palm Beach Community College's Board of Trustees split the vote as to whether or not to offer benefits to domestic partners of employees. The vote was split 2-2, with a vacancy on the board. This effectively is a decision of "no."

According to the Sun-Sentinel, some of the trustees had concerns about the concept:

Some trustees wondered whether the extra use of the system would force college employees to spend more over time and because the state did not offer a similar plan for its employees, Truman said

However, the article also points out that PBCC employees already have to pay to add their spouses and children onto their health insurance, so "Adding domestic partner benefits would not have cost the college anything."

The Palm Beach Post makes this includes this important information that The Sun-Sentinel left out:

Broward, Miami-Dade, Florida Keys and Hillsborough community colleges and the University of Florida and Florida International University offer domestic partner benefits

Given the lack of universal health coverage, I'm always frustrated by any efforts of institutions to deny the opportunity to add domestic partners to health insurance coverage. It's particularly frustrating when this won't cost anything to the school.

I wonder about the decision to bring this to a vote when one spot on the Board is vacant (term limit - no new appointee). Who decided to bring this to a vote now? Did anyone think that they could get a 3-1 vote in either direction? Or is this an attempt by the board to look like they're progressive (by bringing these issues to attention), without a desire to be progressive? (okay, okay. I'm speculating. But I'm having a hard time not seeing some sort of attempt to control appearances here - an attempt that would please everyone, but ultimately please no one).

Domestic partner benefits are incredibly important, since many people -- same-sex or opposite-sex -- enter into domestic partnerships. And since most states don't recognize gay unions.

I'm usually annoyed when single people make the argument that spousal and child benefits are somehow "extra" benefits that married people get for working. At the same time, this begins to look that way: play our way (i.e. be a M-F couple, and get married, none of this "playing house" that Brian and Amy do. Be legit like Bradley and Emily) or we won't give you the priveledge of paying extra money to insure your partner.

I can't imagine what would have happened last year when I worked part time and Bradley worked full time - what if I couldn't have gotten insurance? We didn't have this problem because we are married - and we've got our notarized copy of our marriage license. But that's not why we got married. In fact, that's not a particularly good reason to get married.

The point I'm making (if you've made it this far through my rambling - need more coffee) is that so long as we don't have Universal Healthcare, we need to be working very, very hard to make sure that employers include domestic partnerships -- same-sex or opposite-sex -- in the benefits package. Especially if the cost will be shouldered primarily by the employees and not the school (it's going to be a lot cheaper than getting individual coverage from an insurer). The concerns about "employees having to pay more in the long run" is parochial and short-sighted. Hmm ... I guess it's time to start bringing this one up with our own University.

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