Coverage and Treatment of Domestic Partners

On July 18, 2017, Gov. Raimondo signed HB 5951 into law. Under the new law, employers and carriers may not treat plan participants who are in domestic partnerships differently than plan participants who are married. That fair treatment applies for purposes of premiums, policy fees or rates charged for health insurance policies. For purposes of the law, “domestic partnership” means two plan participants who are in exclusive, intimate and committed relationships with each other and who certify (by affidavit or some other signed document) that their relationship is one of domestic partner. Specifically, the two must certify that both plan participants are at least 18 years old and mentally competent to enter into a contract, aren’t currently married to someone else and aren’t related by blood (to a degree prohibited by Rhode Island law). In addition, the two must certify that they reside together (and have for at least one year before the affidavit is certified) and are financially interdependent. The new law applies to policies that are issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2018.

Rhode Island employers should review their policies and plan offerings to ensure they are prepared to treat domestic partners the same as other married plan participants. That includes reviewing plan documents and other plan-related materials to ensure processes are in place to avoid any hint of discrimination against employees who are in a domestic partnership relationship.

HB 5951 »