Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tennesseans share the impact of partner benefits in their lives

We've been surveying our members about the importance of partner benefits.  Despite the fact that a Vanderbilt poll shows that 62% of Tennesseans support partner health insurance benefits, not every employer offers them and NO public employers in the state offer them.

Here are some of the responses we received.  They make it clear that if you do the same work, you deserve the same benefits:

J in Nashville:  “My partner is self employed, health insurance would be much more expensive if not available through my employer and would likely provide sub-standard benefits.”

E in Memphis:  “It has made life better. My partner has been uninsured for long periods of time, during which we have dealt with some expensive health issues and both gone without lots of routine and needed healthcare.  Pretty ironic to work in hospital and not be able to use their services.   I would look for another job if mine did not offer DP benefits, especially since many of our competitors offer them.”

A in Nashville:  “My employer does offer health insurance benefits for same sex domestic partners. However, my partner has top-notch health insurance coverage (he works for the state of TN), so his policy is significantly better than what my employer could offer. Thus, we have separate policies from each of our employers.

This situation has affected our family negatively. The state of TN does not offer domestic partner benefits so I am unfairly kept from choosing the better policy; unlike opposite sex couples, I'm forced to settle for the lesser of the two. My policy has a deductible of $4,000; my partner's has no deductible. To make matters worse, of the two, I'm the one with the most medical needs. My co-pays and deductibles and out of pocket expenses exceed over $8,000 a year. If I was covered under his policy, our household's expenses would be reduced to aproximately less than $1,000 a year (a difference of aprox. $7,000).

I would not work for an employeer that would not offer same sex partner benefits. Same-sex couples are not treated equally at the state of TN.This kind of inequality is actually encouraging us to move to a different state.”

P in Memphis:  “Both of us are HIV+ which means we have some medications that are very expensive. Even with insurance our medical costs are sometimes challenging but I don't know how people without medical insurance survive. If my employer wasn't able to include my partner under my health insurance I would have to seek a different job.”

T in Nashville:  “I am legally married in New York. I served in the military and one year in AmeriCorps. Because I cannot access her benefits at work, we are forced to pay hundreds of dollars a month for a private plan for me. This is money that is not going into our economy. I am lucky however. I am young and healthy enough to be able to purchase health insurance. I don't know what we would do if this were not the case obviously we knew this when we decided to make our partnership it did not deter us from getting married, it is certainly a bitter pill to swallow when one thinks that a straight couple could meet and marry each other in a matter of hours or days and access these benefits which are denied to us for an educated person, this is very difficult to wrap my head around.”

D in Chattanooga:  “My company has offered DP benefits for as long as I have worked there (almost 4 years now). My partner recently lost his job and I was able to put him and our daughter on my insurance. Had my company not offered DP benefits they both would have lost their coverage.”

D in Cookeville:  “My wife is an adjunct professor at a University. Since it is considered a part-time job health insurance is not offered to her. She has a life-long illness that requires medication. Before working for _______ we had to try to manage to pay for her medication out of pocket and sometimes she went without often to the detriment of her health. I commute to Nashville from Cookeville to work and will continue to do so to make sure I can provide health coverage for my entire family. “

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