Access to Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage for Same-Sex Spouses: 2018 Update

Source: Lindsey Dawson, Jennifer Kates, and Matthew Rae, Kaiser Family Foundation, October 29, 2018

Using the latest data from our annual Employer Health Benefits Survey (EHBS), we assessed access to employer sponsored health insurance (ESI) coverage for same sex spouses in 2018, as well as trends over time; ESI remains the primary way people in the U.S. receive health coverage, either directly or as a spouse or other dependent.1 We found that while access to same sex-spousal coverage through ESI is increasing, it remains significantly less common than the offer of opposite sex spousal coverage. In 2018, nearly two-thirds (63%) of employers offering health insurance to opposite sex spouses also offered coverage to same sex spouses and the share of employees with such access has increased over time so most (88%) now have access. These increases follow two Supreme Court rulings (United States v Windsor and Obergerfell v Hodges) which changed the legal landscape for same-sex couples, ultimately guaranteeing the right to marriage nationwide and paving the way for wider access to health insurance through the workplace.2 Still, neither court decision requires private employers to offer this benefit and tracking access through ESI remains important.