I missed this news last week, but apparently I wasn’t the only one: Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 88 into law last Monday, granting dental and health insurance benefits to domestic partners of gay and lesbian state employees. The bill was signed with no fanfare or public announcement, and even the bill’s sponsors didn’t know until after the fact that it had been signed by the governor.
I read several articles about the bill being signed into law. I was most interested in the concrete numbers: about $150,000 in cost to the state, and 79 employees who will be impacted by the law. Opponents of the bill are for the most part people who oppose gay rights in general. They point out that extending health insurance benefits to same sex domestic partners will cost Colorado $150,000. But what if those 79 employees were straight? What if they were married to opposite sex partners? Would there be a protest regarding their ability to enroll their families in the health insurance policy provided for Colorado’s state employees? Would people be wringing their hands about the added cost? I doubt it, and that’s why the money factor just doesn’t seem like a sound argument.
For the 79 state employees who will be able to enroll their partners on their health insurance policies, I’m sure that the passage of Senate Bill 88 will mean security, peace of mind, and a measure of respect that had previously been lacking. As I’ve said before, I’m in favor of anything that expands access to health insurance coverage and health care. Even if we put aside all political and social arguments about gay rights, this bill expands access to health insurance, and that is a good thing for all of Colorado.
Of course, it has been mentioned time and again that having health insurance doesn’t necessarily equate with having access to health care. Check out this article from Kerri Sparling, detailing the various out of pocket expenses she incurrs, even with health insurance. Kerri’s post was featured in last week’s Grand Rounds, which was hosted at Healthcare Technology News.