Q.- We allow the coverage of domestic partners under our plan. Do we have to offer a domestic partner the right to continue coverage under COBRA?
A.- No. A domestic partner is not considered a COBRA qualified beneficiary and does not have an independent right to elect continuation coverage, even if the domestic partner is covered under the plan on the day before the qualifying event. Under COBRA, only covered employees, spouses and dependent children may be qualified beneficiaries. You should note that a “spouse” would include a same-sex spouse.
A qualified beneficiary could be able to enroll his or her domestic partner for coverage at open enrollment if active employees can enroll domestic partners.
If your plan is subject to state continuation and not Federal COBRA, there could be state requirements on offering coverage to domestic partners.