California domestic partner health insurance coverage

In California a domestic partnership is practically indistinguishable from a marriage and so for the purposes of health insurance represents no obstacle in terms of spousal health cover.

The Domestic Partnership Registry was the first of its kind in the United States, and after much controversy and debate of public opinions the Californian legislature revolutionized the privileges of domestic partnerships and granted them many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

In 2004 the California Insurance Equality Act was enacted to insist that health insurers provide all domestic partners with health coverage ordinarily received by spouses, however this legally enforceable right must be ratified by a filing of a Declaration of DomesticPartnership in the State of California.

The Insurance Equality Act appears to meet the needs of same sex couples who are neglected in the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act 1986. Known as COBRA, or in California as Cal-COBRA, this legislation ensures that employment based health insurance is guaranteed to continue to benefit same sex spouses and dependent children.

While Federal law does not allow a tax deduction for an employer who pays for the health insurance of an employee's spouse or partner,1 in California the law allows the cost of providing health cover for a spouse or partner to be tax exempt.

To qualify as a domestic partner for the purpose of deducting the cost of health insurance for tax purposes, the partner must receive more than half their support from the other, and if they are both working it is unlikely that one will qualify as the others dependent for tax purposes.

The Domestic Partnership Act 2003 further refined the law in regard to ensuring the inalienable rights of all couples irrespective of gender, and maintained the right of a partner to receive the same insurance benefits as a spouse in any event. In the event of a termination of the relationship, a Notice of Termination is to be registered, but if there exists compliance with other particular requirements, the benefits of Cal-COBRA legislation may preserve the entitlements of health insurance under former spouse's insurance cover .

Certainly the legal impact of the above discussed legislation places a financial burden on the health insurers of California, but the cost of expanding this burden is most definitely passed onto employers, and if they so choose, to the individuals themselves. The anomaly between state and Federal taxation qualifications for the cost of a partner's health insurance is also a matter of commercial indigestion.

Still, the equality and security offered citizens in California is of benefit to the community a large, and makes progress with respect to a population that in large sectors is yet to be covered by health insurance.

Many opponents to the legal recognition for same sex couples still exist in California, however the rights of Californians benefited by this landmark statutory change have prevailed by virtue of due process and the function of democracy. Given that California is the most populated state in the US, it would appear that a reliable pulse representing society as a whole is to be found there.

Despite the enactment of legislation to provide equality for domestic partners, in order to prevent abuse of the system, and also to ensure that health care benefits are received when they are due, it cannot be more openly stressed that formal registration of a domestic relationship is necessary under Californian law in order to preserve the health care benefits that may accrue to a domestic partner.

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