IHC Insures Same-sex Partners

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Utah’s largest health care provider will now offer health insurance benefits to the unmarried partners of employees.

News of Intermountain Healthcare’s decision came to light Oct. 21. However, the company (formerly known by the initials IHC) has not yet provided a reason for extending the benefits. In a statement released the following day, Intermountain spokesperson Daron Cowley said the following:

“Beginning January 1, 2011, Intermountain Healthcare employees will be able to extend their insurance benefits to a domestic partner. This practice has become the norm for many companies and government organizations throughout Utah and the nation. Information about this option has begun to be communicated to Intermountain employees.

“Some employers doing business in Utah that extend benefits to domestic partners include:  MountainStar/HCA Healthcare, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, University of Utah, Abbott Laboratories, American Express, American Airlines, AT&T, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Costco, Delta Airlines, Ernst & Young, Ford, Honeywell, Intel, JCPenney, Liberty Mutual, Marriott International, Nordstrom, Novell, Qwest, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Sears, Skywest, Starbucks, Home Depot, Target, United Airlines, UPS, Verizon, Wachovia, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo.”

When QSaltLake called for further comment, Cowley said that Intermountain is limiting public comments on the benefits for now and is concentrating on communicating with employees directly about the policy change.

Intermountain employees may sign up their unmarried partners for the benefits from Nov. 11–23.

Equality Utah applauded Intermountain’s decision.

“This decision will have an immensely positive impact on our community and on our families,” Brandie Balken, executive director of the statewide gay and transgender rights group, told The Salt Lake Tribune.

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