The New York Times
Access to Health Care
for Gay Partners Is
By SABRINA TAVERNISE,
nytimes.com, published July 26, 2011
WASHINGTON — In the first
comprehensive count of domestic partner benefits by a federal government agency,
the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that about one-third of all workers had
access to health care benefits for same-sex partners.
Bureau officials added two questions about domestic partner benefits for
same-sex couples to the National Compensation Survey, a sample of 17,000
businesses and local governments, as a response to growing public interest in
the topic, said Philip Doyle, assistant commissioner at the agency. The
results were made public on Tuesday.
Thirty-three percent of state and local government employees had access to
domestic partner health benefits for same-sex couples, the survey found,
slightly higher than the 29 percent of employees in private companies.
Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law at
the University of California, Los Angeles, said the data collection “reflects
contemporary reality of what constitutes a compensation package.” It will
also allow researchers to track whether laws on same-sex marriage affect the
availability of domestic partner benefits.
Access to the benefits varied depending on the type of job. Business and
financial managers, for example, had some of the highest rates of access to such
benefits at 52 percent, compared with 17 percent for workers in the service
industry. That is partly because service industry workers tend to have
less access to health care than financial managers.
In all, 42 percent of service workers have access to health care. Of
those, about a third had access to domestic partner health benefits, the survey
The regions with the greatest access for people working for private employers
were the Pacific region, the Mountain region (which included Colorado, New
Mexico and Wyoming) and New England. Those with the lowest were the South
and the West North Central (which included Iowa, Missouri and South Dakota).