Gunnison may be one of the only counties in this part of Colorado that’s decided to let domestic partners of county employees, including same-sex partners, share in health insurance benefits.Debbie Moore, personnel director for Gunnison County, said the measure has been considered for a couple of years after being requested by a few employees and was enacted Jan. 1.
“We are a tight organization and all feel like a family,” Moore said. “We did it because we saw a need for our own employees, to help them have a better life and stay with us.”
That’s apparently a rarity, said Lynn Black, administrator for San Miguel County. She said the county’s insurance is through Colorado Technical Services, an insurance pool.
“We just never had it raised,” Black said. “If they are a heterosexual couple, they just tell us they’re married, because the common law in this state is really easy. But in a same-sex relationship, it just hasn’t come up.”
Black said Colorado Springs enacted a provision a few years ago to include same-sex partners in its health insurance plan, but it was later rescinded.
In Ouray County, human services director Sherry Peck said the county has never been asked to extend coverage to live-in companions.
“It’s something we would have to definitely check into,” she said. “Our health insurance is with Rocky Mountain HMO, but we would have to do some research. It has not come up.”
Mesa County’s interim director of personnel, Stefani Conley, said there is no such provision in their insurance with Rocky Mountain Health Plans.
“At this time, we don’t cover domestic partners,” she said, “but it hasn’t come up, as far as I know.”
One reason Gunnison County is able to decide who is covered is that the county runs its own health insurance program, up to $30,000, with anything above that covered by a stop-loss insurance program.
The county’s personnel board first approved the new insurance plan, which was then authorized by county commissioners in December last year, Moore said.
“They have the same medical, dental, vision and prescription plan, all under our organization,” she said.
But domestic partners are not included in life insurance or Internal Revenue Service plans that allow pretaxing of medical expenses.
Moore said she got the wording for the plan from the county’s claims administrator, but didn’t check to see what other counties were doing it.