Mission Health System to start offering domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples

Western North Carolina’s largest employer will start offering domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Mission Health System’s policy change is intended to help its hospitals retain the best staff possible, says Janet Moore, director of marketing and Web services.

“We have wonderful staff, but if we’re going to continue to be able to attract the best and the brightest, we need to be able to have relevant benefits,” she explains. “We look at what we need to do to provide the best services, the best care to folks in the region. We’ve got to have benefits that are relevant and competitive.”

She notes that regional competitors across the Southeast such as Duke University Hospital in Durham, Novant Health in Winston-Salem, and Emory Adventist Hospital already offer such benefits.

“When we looked at what other comparable systems are offering, it made a great deal of sense for us,” says Moore. “We don’t necessarily compete Duke for a lot of patients, but we do for staff.”

Moore reports that the administration isn’t sure how many of the system’s roughly 7,000 current employees will be affected by the change, or how much it will cost.

Employee eligibility will be determined through a process that’s very similar to the one used by other companies such as Wachovia and Progress Energy that started offering such domestic benefits several years ago, Moore says.

“We benchmarked with other organizations that have done this,” she reports. “There’s a process to document that the two individuals are in a committed relationship. … It’s a standard based on best practices.”

The city of Asheville started offering domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples earlier this year.

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Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

3 thoughts on “Mission Health System to start offering domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples

  1. LOKEL

    But are they going to offer health benefits to domestic partners that are heterosexual …. my employer offers domestic partner benefits to same sex couples (but the company does not contribute any of the premium), but they will not provide the same for heterosexual couples …

  2. RHS

    Heterosexual couples have the option to obtain these benefits through marriage. Same sex couples do not.

  3. Dionysis

    It will be interesting to learn how they validate legitimate same-sex couples, as opposed just roommates or such. If there isn’t some criteria, then employers with group plans will see their experience ratings (and subsequent premium costs) skyrocket. And that will almost surely result in some companies discontinuing coverage completely. Some companies are now dropping the ability to add dependent coverage and only provide for employee-only coverage.

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