University Adds Medical Coverage for Domestic Partners
(From: Columbia Benefits Update for Officers,Office of
Personnel Management & Human Resources, November/December, 1993
Effective January 1, 1994, qualified domestic partners will be
recognized as eligible dependents for coverage under the Columbia
University Medical Options Plan for active faculty, officers and
full-time staff not covered by a labor agreement.
Although Columbia is not the first university or employer to cover
domestic partners, Columbia's program will break new ground. The
University's program will, for the first time in New York, offer
domestic partner coverage under all its health plans, including the
Oxford Point of Service (POS) plan and traditional Health Maintenance
Organizations (HMOs). Typically, insured plans such as HMOs have not
covered domestic partners. To make coverage available through the
insured programs, the University had to receive approval from the New
York State Insurance department. Both New York State and the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) require employers and their employees to meet
certain regulatory requirements.
To enroll a qualified domestic partner for coverage for the remainder
of this plan year, you and your partner must complete an application
by December 31,1993, and meet these criteria:
Because of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, you must
pay the monthly payroll contributions for your partner's portion of
the coverage on an after-tax, not a pre-tax basis. In addition, under
law, the amount that Columbia pays toward your domestic partner's
coverage will count as taxable income. This income is subject to
ordinary federal income taxation and social Security taxes (FICA),
which are normally withheld through payroll deducations.
- You must be currently enrolled under one of the University's
medical options or HMOs; your partner will be covered under the same
plan. You will pay the "officer and spouse" rate for your current
option or HML. (This coverage category will be renamed.) If you or
your domestic partner has a child or children, you may also cover them
by selecting the family-level coverage.
If you do not have coverage now, you'll have to wait until the open
enrollment next spring.
All the plans and HMOs except the Healthnet HMO will cover domestic
partners. If you are participating in Healthnet HMO and wish to cover
your partner, you can change HMOs or select another medical option
now, which will become effective January 1, 1994.
- Your partner must be an adult of the same gender, not related to
you by blood, and who is not eligible for coverage through Columbia as
- You and your partner must have lived together in a committed
personal relationship for at least six consecutive months before
enrolling for coverage. Furthermore, you must anticipate continuing
to live together in a personal relationship in which you have joint
and reciprocal financial responsibilities.
- You must complete a new enrollment form (available at the Benefits
Office--313 Dodge Hall, Morningside Campus, or 112 Black Building,
Health Sciences Campus, and the respective Personnel Offices) by the
December 31 deadline. You need to attach two pieces of documentation
that show your shared financial responsibilities. Acceptable
documentation includes a
- joint lease or mortgage,
- joint bank account statement,
- joint ownership of a motor vehicle,
- designation of your partner as primary beneficiary in your will,
- designation of your partner as your beneficiary for your life
insurance or retirement benefits,
- assignment of power of attorney to your partner, or
- registration in New York City's Domestic Partnership Registration
The Benefits Office can provide you with more information about the
program, as well as an enrollment form.