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Foreign domestic partner
Apr 10, 2012

I am a foreign professional currently working in California for a large health care organization (on a work visa with the possibility of obtaining permanent residency in about 3 years) and I am looking into having my long time HIV positive partner immigrate to the US, first as a student and then maybe through employment or marriage (whatever happens first). My employer offers group health insurance to all its employees and their families. In the case that my partner comes to the US, can he be covered as my domestic partner under my employer's insurance (that is if we were to become domestic partners)? I have read that California mandates that group health insurance policies take new members even if they have preexisting conditions. I know that he also could have the chance of obtaining coverage through the university he would be enrolled in right? Is this correct? It has been discouraging to read in your replies that HIV positive people cannot get individual coverage.

Response from Mr. Chambers

I'll try to answer all your questions.

First, it is a federal law that health insurance offered on a group basis through an employer must admit all eligible enrollees regardless of their health condition or history, not just in California.

Some plans do impose up to a six month waiting period before pre-existing conditions are covered, but that waiting period can be waived if your partner is coming from coverage without a lapse of more than 63 days. If, for example, your partner was covered under his/her home country's national health plan, then there would be prior "creditable" coverage.

However, not all employer group plans cover domestic partners, but limit coverage to spouse and children. You will need to check your employer's plan. Most larger employers, especially in California, do offer it.

Student coverage may be available at the university, however, it is designed for healthy young people and may not be as broad as he needs. There are restrictions on eligibility as well based on hours enrolled. Plus there is no continuation of coverage when he/she leaves school and it is not considered "creditable." Also, those plans can have much longer waiting periods for coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Believe me, I get discouraged writing about all the inequities in our country's health care/insurance system. Of the thirty-three developed nations in the world, only one doe not offer universal coverage. Guess who. Yep, it's us.

Jacques



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