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IU eyes HJR-3-related insurance cost increases

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In anticipation of House Joint Resolution 3's potential passing, Indiana University is trying to determine what effect a law preventing recognition of same-sex marriage would have on the university's health care costs.

As a model, IU human resources staff used the University of Kentucky, which had implemented domestic partners health insurance coverage just before the state passed a constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex couples. In response to the Kentucky attorney general's determination that offering same-sex partners health insurance was a form of recognition - and therefore not legal - the university devised a work-around program by offering coverage to "sponsored adult dependents," non-family members living with the insured for at least 12 months.

Jacqueline A. Simmons, IU vice president and general counsel, worried about the potential for scamming. "For instance, if someone had an uninsured friend with a serious health condition, one could ask them to move in for 12 months and then provide them with health insurance," she wrote in an email to Daniel Rives, IU associate vice president for university human resources.

In response, Rives provided the following update:

"I spoke to my peer at UK, who indicated that: 1) There was some increase in covered members due to coverage of opposite-sex partners, 2) The administration (verification, tracking, etc.) of the new coverage requires staff resources, and 3) There is no measurable abuse reported."

In his attempt to extrapolate potential added costs for a similar workaround totaled nearly $1 million.

Rives estimated if 150 employees with a base salary of near $100,000 covered their opposite-sex partners under IU's $900 deductible PPO plan, and 50 percent of them included children, the university's additional base premium costs in 2014 would equal approximately $950,000.

"Add IU costs for other benefits, such as tuition assistance, and for administration, the total estimated additional IU cost for 2014 would be approximately $1.5 million, plus or minus a couple of hundred thousand dollars."

Other universities in Indiana also provide same-sex partner health benefits. The total cost of expanding existing coverage has yet to be determined.

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