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County allows domestic partners access to benefits

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The opposite and same-sex partners of some Summit County employees can now pay to receive health insurance from the county.

In January, the government began offering health benefits to domestic partners including gay couples.

With its current insurance provider, Summit County Human Resources Director Brian Bellamy said the county can offer the coverage without increasing up-front costs for taxpayers.

"We’re not providing benefits, we’re providing access," Summit County Councilman David Ure said. "I stress that part very loud and clear."

For about six months, county officials studied the potential impacts of providing access to health insurance to some gay couples.

"The domestic partnership has to pay the difference between the single premium and the family premium," Bellamy said about the monthly costs. "The single premium is about $351. The family premium is about $873."

For the county’s basic health plan the couple would be required to pay about $522 per month, Bellamy explained.

With the basic plan, married employees and their families can receive health insurance without paying any premiums.

Park City, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County also offer access to health benefits for domestic partners of employees. However, domestic partners of state workers are not provided health insurance by the government.

Last month, the Summit County Council voted unanimously to support the proposal.

The county doesn’t have any numbers that show how many employees live with domestic partners who could qualify.

For a domestic partner to qualify to receive the insurance a county employee must sign an affidavit declaring they have lived with the person for at least a year, Bellamy said.

The couple must also be "financially interdependent," he said.

So the employee must also provide two of the following types of documentation:

— Common ownership of real property or a common leasehold interest in such property

— Designation as a beneficiary for life insurance, retirement benefits or the employee’s will

— Assignment of durable power of attorney


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