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Can my girlfriend be covered on my health insurance?

Keep in mind...
  • It may be possible to add a girlfriend or boyfriend to your insurance policy
  • Each state recognizes domestic partnerships differently
  • Self-Funded Employer Health Insurance Policies may have different rules
  • Speak with the Plan Administrator for specifics about your policy

For a dependent to be added to a subscriber’s health insurance, several requirements must be fulfilled. The requirements can vary from state to state, so it’s important never to assume a person is eligible for coverage or expect a dependent to be added immediately to a policy.

Below, we will go over the requirements for dependent health insurance coverage, which should help you determine whether you can add your girlfriend to your policy.

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Understanding Insurable Interest

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One of the first requirements of adding a person to your insurance coverage is determining insurable interest. Insurable interest applies to your immediate family only. Usually, this means your spouse, children, dependent parents, and grandchildren. The easiest way to determine who may be covered by your health insurance is to find out if you have a legal, financial obligation.

Because there is no financial obligation to your girlfriend and yourself, she may not be added to your health insurance. However, if you live in a state which recognizes common law marriage or domestic relationships, your girlfriend may be eligible to be added to your health insurance policy.

How does common law marriage affect health insurance?

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There are approximately a dozen states in the US that mandate health insurance must be provided to domestic partners if spouses receive the same coverage. But, self-funded, employer insurance programs are usually exempt from this rule. However, it doesn’t mean a self-funded health insurance won’t cover a domestic relationship – it only means they aren’t required by law to do so.

If an unmarried couple resides in a state that acknowledges common law marriage, your girlfriend may be eligible for addition to your health insurance as your spouse.

If the state you live in recognizes your marriage – the medical insurance company must as well. However, determining eligibility can be tricky. It will be necessary to contact your health insurance customer service to discuss domestic partnership relationships. If the insurance company recognizes a domestic partnership, the following requirements will likely apply and need to be validated:

  • A shared residence
  • Persons in a domestic relationship can’t be close blood relatives
  • Cannot be legally married to anyone else
  • Recognized in the public’s eye as a couple
  • A commitment to each other and one another’s welfare
  • Shared financial responsibility for household expenses
  • Both persons in the domestic partnership must plan to live together indefinitely
  • Cohabitation for a minimum amount of years, usually 4 to 10

Insurance companies may require a subscriber to provide documentation of a domestic partnership before determining eligibility for coverage. Examples of documentation that be used to establish a domestic partnership include:

  • Joint ownership deeds (mortgage, cars, property)
  • State recognized ID listing a common address
  • Joint bank accounts, credit cards, checking and savings accounts
  • Designating each other as the beneficiary of wills, retirement benefits, life insurance
  • Power of Attorney

Once the requirements for a domestic relationship are satisfied, you will be able to add a significant other to your health insurance. However, you may not be able to add a dependent right away. Instead, you may have to wait for an open enrollment period to add a girlfriend to the policy.

What You Need to Know about Adding Domestic Dependents to Your Health Insurance

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If you’ve meet all the requirements up to this point, you must be ready to sign an affidavit regarding your unique situation. If you have any questions about the testimony or your circumstances, you should read your benefits policy and talk to the employee benefits manager for your company’s health insurance.

The affidavit is a declaration of fact, a legal document. In this situation, it is needed to ensure everything you have entered regarding your position is accurate. It’s important not to fudge any of the details. Many companies conduct their dependent audits to make sure no one is unfairly receiving benefits.

If it’s determined a subscriber was not honest about their situation, it can create significant financial stresses as well as loss of insurance for everyone on your policy.

Determining Additional Costs of Added Dependents

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When you add a dependent to your health insurance, you are increasing your financial responsibility. If your employer pays your health insurance premiums, you will still be responsible for increased deductibles, copays, etc.

If your company requires you to pay for your dependents’ coverage, you should find out how much that will cost before finalizing any changes, so you have time to adjust for the reduction in your paycheck.

After reading all of the information above, you now know that it may be possible to add your girlfriend to your insurance policy, if your employer, state law, and relationship status allow for it. It’s worth noting if your girlfriend is eligible for benefits, her children may also qualify for coverage under your policy.

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