Some hospital workers in New England will have to get married within the next year to retain their health benefits, according to a new policy at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
With gay marriage now legal in Vermont and Massachusetts, and arriving in New Hampshire on Jan. 1, 2010, the hospital decided to terminate domestic partner benefits starting in 2011.
The decision affects about 230 employees out of its 7,865 workers, including some heterosexual couples.
“We created the domestic partner benefit because there was inequity,” says Jason Aldous, spokesman for the Lebanon, N.H.-based hospital, which has employees living in all of those states. Now that residents in all three states can marry, the system decided to make the change. Aldous says he doubts the hospital will save money with the new policy.
Aldous says that the decision isn’t related to the proposed affiliation between Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Catholic Medical Center of Manchester, N.H. “The two are completely not connected,” he says.
According to a 2008 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 7% of respondents said they or someone in their household decided to get married in the past year to gain access to health benefits.