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The Odds of Getting on a Domestic Partner’s Health Plan

Same-sex partners of white-collar employees in the U.S. are more likely to have access to their significant other’s health benefits than the partners of blue-collar employees.

According to a report mentioned Tuesday on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ TED blog, if you are an unmarried same-sex partner of a worker with employee-sponsored health benefits, there’s only a 43 percent chance you’ll have access to them. The odds of access increase to 49 percent if your partner is a “manager or professional,” but they drop significantly — to 32 percent — if he or she works in “natural resources, construction and maintenance.” These numbers are based on March 2013 data, the most recent available, and categories refer to workers’ jobs, not their industry.

And if you’re an unmarried opposite-sex domestic partner, the likelihood of having access to your partner’s benefits is lower — no matter his or her job description.

The BLS had a more extensive piece on this subject last month by Elizabeth Ashack. In that piece, she elaborated on non-health benefits for domestic partners, such as defined-benefit pension plans. It’s worth a read.

Ashack noted that “the difference in the availability of health benefits that can be extended to domestic partners from one group to another is a reflection of access to health benefits in general.” (Health benefits, which are highlighted in the TED post, are generally available to only 72 percent of all workers. Hence why the probabilities above are conditional on jobs for which health benefits are available to begin with.)

The chart below shows the percentage of people who have access to the health benefits of their domestic partners, by their partners’ job characteristics:


Andrew Flowers wrote about economics and sports for FiveThirtyEight.