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Health Insurance Benefits for Civil Union Spouses in Illinois

By Nottage and Ward on July 7, 2011

This is a continuation of our blog series covering the impact that the new civil union law in Illinois has on the new benefits offering to civil union spouses.

Are Civil Union Spouses Given Health Insurance Coverage?

One of the most important questions the new law answers is whether or not health insurance policies have to provide coverage for civil union spouses. Yes, all HMO contracts and health insurance policies issued in Illinois are required to offer civil union couples the identical coverage given to married couples. Additionally, if a policy allows coverage for a married policyholder’s dependent children, the policy must also allow coverage for a civil union policyholder’s children. Rates for spousal or family coverage must not be different, regardless of whether the family consists of civil union or married spouses.

When Can a Civil Union Spouse be Added to an Employer’s Health Insurance Plan?

Another important question is when a civil union spouse can be added to the other spouse’s employer’s health insurance plan. If a spouse’s employer’s plan permits coverage for employees’ spouses, and the plan is subject to the Illinois Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, essentially meaning it is offered through a group health insurance policy that is issued in Illinois, then the civil union spouse will be allowed to be added for coverage. This can be done during either the open enrollment period of the plan, or during the special enrollment period of 30 days after the civil union is entered into, or if a civil union spouse loses coverage elsewhere. If someone has entered into a civil union in a state other than Illinois before June 1, 2011, their employer is required to offer the special enrollment period beginning on June 1, 2011.

Is Covering a Civil Union Spouse Through an Employer’s Health Insurance Taxable?

It is important to note that if a civil union spouse covers their spouse through their employer’s health insurance, it is taxable at the federal level. Civil unions are not recognized by federal law, and federal tax laws state that an employee that provides coverage for a civil union spouse has “imputed income” that is equal to the excess of the fair market value of the coverage that is given to the civil union spouse over the amount paid by the employee for the coverage. The imputed income is subject to both payroll and federal income taxes. Because of federal laws, a civil union spouse also may not qualify for certain federal tax exemptions or insurance premiums that are given to married couples.

To learn more, read the Illinois Insurance Facts: Civil Unions and Insurance Benefits PDF provided by the Illinois Department of Insurance at: and continue to check back with our blog. You may also contact a civil union attorney in Chicago at Nottage and Ward by calling 312-332-2915.

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