More hospitals offering spousal benefits to same-sex couple employees

Intermountain Healthcare, a 22-hospital system based in Salt Lake City, will offer spousal benefits to same-sex couples who have legally married in states where same-sex marriage is recognized starting in 2014, according to Deseret News.

Although Utah doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, the healthcare system is one of many employers in the state, as well as hospitals and systems around the country, that have expanded their benefits to cover employees in same-sex marriages. In Pennsylvania, St. Luke's University Health Network will offer equal benefits to same-sex spouses starting next year, joining a number of other hospitals in the region to offer those benefits, South Whitehall Patch reported.

In October, MetroHealth Medical Center announced it will offer health insurance to domestic partners and dependents of its 6,500-employee workforce, following in the footsteps of the Cleveland Clinic as well as local governments, Cleveland.com noted.

"When you say to an employee, 'I'm going to pay for your family's benefits, but not not yours,' you're actually paying one person less," Brandie Balken, spokeswoman for Equality Utah, told Deseret News. "For [Intermountain Healthcare] to remain competitive, not only in recruitment but also in retaining the best talent and the best employees, they really need to offer equitable benefits to their employees."

Across the country in 2012, about 54 percent of employers offered health benefits to same-sex domestic partners, with more than two-thirds of companies boasting more than 10,000 employees offering the same benefits, according to Cleveland.com. In February, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it would extend benefits to same-sex partners of service members, according to a blog post from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  

In August, same-sex employees at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, which has offered same-sex partnership benefits since 2000, had to get married if they wanted to keep their benefits when same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island allowed same-sex partners who are not eligible for coverage through their own employers to be added starting in July 2011, according to FierceHealthcare.

To learn more:
- read the Deseret News article
- here's the Patch article
- read the Cleveland.com article
- check out the blog post

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