I’m not down with that

This whole domestic partner business and benefits.

The Medical College of Georgia may be poised to join the state’s two largest universities in calling on the state Board of Regents to extend health insurance benefits to domestic partners.

Faculty members in the medical college will vote online through Aug. 11 on a resolution asking the Board of Regents to extend health insurance to domestic partners – unmarried couples who live together.

Mind you, my objection has nothing to do with gay marriage. It has everything to do with the potential for short term arrangements causing long term hassles. I think I’d be more comfortable if they at least establish a live-in period of a year or so. Make sure the couple is actually in a long-term relationship and not a six month thing that ends badly with someone needing to give me back my black t-shirt.

43 comments

  1. Call me crazy, but wouldn’t the controversy about domestic partnerships/gay marriage/live-in relationships/whatever be avoided if the policy allowed for a “benefits designee?” Pick one person -spouse, partner, boyfriend/girlfriend or elderly aunt, sick parent or if any one you want to share whatever benefits you have through your employer. Then, there’s no implied “endorsement” of the living arrangements.

  2. Icarus says:

    I think benefits should be equated to $’s per employee. If you want to add 1 or 20 people, you should get the same amount of benefit dollars. That gets the employer out of having to make any value judgements, and provides a fair distribution of benefit dollars to employees.

  3. bigdel1 says:

    Proof of cohabitation should be required. (I’m suggesting the same standard as proving address for voting, etc., so I recognize it is not impossible to create false proof). But, if you lie about your residence here, that’s insurance fraud and/or the basis to deny a claim for benefits. Adding sick people with no nexus to the employee will increase employer and employee health care costs. The cohabitation requirement will keep people from adding sick people to an insurance pool unless there is a real relationship.

  4. AtlConservative says:

    1. If we would open borders and therefore free markets within health care this would not be quite the same issue.

    2. My old company had one year proof of residency to get insurance. I’m good with that – it’s fair.

    3. The pick someone and choose idea will only increase the cost of health care for everyone.

    4. Georgia Public Policy Foundation did a nice program about reforming health care a few weeks back. If we adopt that plan, we could provide GOOD insurance to most people! And then the domestic partner concerns start going away. (Again, with a specified living arrangement).

  5. heroV says:

    Wow, that is probably among the worst attempts I’ve seen to create a sham excuse for one’s homophobia. Good job, Erick.

  6. drjay says:

    this is great–the potential for hilarity to ensue when chuck and larry enter into a domestic partnership in order to take advantage of the fire depts’-err-i mean the medical school’s– benefits are tremendous–hopefully when all is said and done they will learn that sticking together through thick and thin is really what family is all about anyway…

  7. Game Fan says:

    This will just filter down to small business and next thing you know everybody has to insure “Frank” and his best buddy, “Jose”. Why? because it’s politically correct. Who cares about the future of small business, lets just pile on more feel good regulations so we can say we did our part to eliminate all the pain and injustice.

  8. odinseye2k says:

    Hmmm … if only there was a legal structure that deeply committed homosexuals could enter into that automatically conveyed the same rights and protections (and *responsibilities*) under law that committed heterosexuals enjoy …

    My God, I’ve never seen such a great argument for gay marriage!

  9. Clint Austin says:

    We make the simplest things so hard, and contort things all beyond recognition, so as to accomodate every lifestyle under the sun.

    I know – I’m hateful and homophobic. I’m pretty sure I’m also right.

  10. Harry says:

    I’d rather not be forced to contribute to the insurance risk pool of homosexual lifestyle. I hope under McCain’s proposals for choice and portability in health care benefits, that I can migrate away from having to cover the results of risky, sinful, bad behavior. Otherwise, it just plain wrong for people who follow healthy choices to be given no say but to have to contribute to the high risks of alcoholism, drug use, tobacco use, homosexual lifestyle, etc.

  11. nrallen says:

    if you want to limit your talent pool for a thinly veiled homophobic agenda then have at it, your competitors will be happy. benefits are a tool to attract and retain talent just like base salary, annual incentives, and long-term incentives.

    if you want to limit your market because you dont like some of the people who are in domestic partnerships, then thats fine, just be prepared to loose out on some of the talent.

  12. odinseye2k says:

    “Otherwise, it just plain wrong for people who follow healthy choices to be given no say but to have to contribute to the high risks of alcoholism, drug use, tobacco use, homosexual lifestyle, etc.”

    Really … you honestly believe the “homosexual lifestyle” has health risks just as severe as alcohol and drug abuse? I’d love a rundown on that particular theory.

    As for McCain’s “choices,” well, good luck to you if you ever come down with something. Or the insurance companies ever get a look at your genome and find something they don’t like.

  13. odinseye2k says:

    It’s also strange that there is an assumption here that health insurance is like driver’s insurance where you know a priori where the riskiest parts of the pool are. Or that monetary risk in insurance payout is tied to behavior.

    In driver’s insurance, there isn’t a big problem with pool segregation because the actual risk and the morality (as in are you a good or bad driver) are pretty well tied together.

    In health, so many genetic / occupational / accidental factors are in play that it is a lot harder to tell how things are going. There are still ongoing debates about visibly large people versus the “TOFI”s and so on. There’s even psychological factors – tell hotel maids that all those mattresses they are flipping is like being at the gym and their cardiovascular health improves out of nowhere.

    In the actuarial sense, you might be able to use demographics to make some empirical predictions, but you can’t split the risk pool in any reasonable way beyond that.

  14. Clint Austin says:

    Equal protection? How about this:

    I think homosexuality is wrong (I won’t bore you with the standard “but I really like people who are gay” – I do, but it’s patronizing), as well as extended cohabitation. I do not want my tax money supporting those things.

    Where’s my Equal Protection? Why does your opinion get to trump mine, especially since the majority of the people probably agree with me? Who’s imposing on whom now?

  15. griftdrift says:

    Gamefan: What part of this is about state of Georgia employees vis a vis the University system and not regulation of small business do you not understand?

    Oh Clint! I’m sorry! Forgive me! I didn’t even think about your rights! Of course they count. And the next time you are denied benefits by a state entity because you are in a long term relationship with a woman I’ll be sure to step up to the plate. Because that’s what equal means.

  16. odinseye2k says:

    “Why does your opinion get to trump mine, especially since the majority of the people probably agree with me?”

    In part because the tiny little bit of satisfaction you get from the world being a certain way is trumped by the very real pains and struggles felt by a significant (however in minority) part of the population. You can’t prove any harm to yourself (for example, how do you know that the price of providing benefits to a gay partner is greater than the price of covering the stress-induced maladies of the working or better-paid partner), but the homosexuals can prove a great deal of pain.

    Thus, humanity > heebie-jeebies.

  17. AtlConservative says:

    odinseye2k, do you know anything about health insurance? Apparently not… portability (McCain’s plan) actually changes things and affords less expensive health insurance with more options. This is not a gay or straight thing, but as a person who has worked in health care for years, I can assure you that portability and actually being judged on your own lifestyle will help the majority of healthy Americans. I am female and do not plan to have a child for years. Why should I pay the same amount as someone who is pregnant? I go to the doctor maybe 2-3 times per year and take very few meds. Again, why should I be in the same risk as someone who is the opposite of me?

    Do some research and get over the homosexual portion of this board. Get educated before you spout about things you do not know.

  18. odinseye2k says:

    “I am female and do not plan to have a child for years. Why should I pay the same amount as someone who is pregnant?”

    Why should someone that decides to have a child when they are in their healthiest years have to pay the same amount as someone who selfishly delays their decision to times of higher risk?

    It’s not the homosexual portion I have an issue with. It is the judgment and this idea that people can plan perfectly in advance as if they are in personal command of Laplace’s daemon.

    Now, portability is a good thing. But I’m wondering how this competition is going to be kick-started in a realm that is highly consolidated. Or how the GAP is going to generate a private enterprise that is any different from Medicare Advantage plans (adding another layer of bureaucracy and profit-taking to increase the overall cost of services).

  19. Harry says:

    “Really … you honestly believe the “homosexual lifestyle” has health risks just as severe as alcohol and drug abuse?”

    Yes, I honestly believe it. Take a few minutes and Google on the comparative lifespans of the US male homosexual population and the US male heterosexual population. As I recall the difference is more than 15 years. Homosexuals tend to die of all sorts of expensive complications – HIV is just one example. The wages of sin is death.

  20. AtlConservative says:

    odinseye2k, so what is your answer? Have the government run health care?

    Oh and btw, it is more selfish to marry young just to have a kid and then end up divorced when you grow apart. Don’t judge a woman who is trying to do the right thing. Is it better that I have a baby in my “healthy years” and raise it as a single mother?

  21. odinseye2k says:

    Atl, I think you make my point beautifully. You can judge on a great number of different criteria, and you get horribly different answers.

    Actually, I like the John Edwards bet the best. Set up government-run (all people able to sign up for Medicare) versus a private system in a common market. Force the private guys to take all comers including pre-existings.

    The bet is that the government is actually more efficient in passing around bills than somebody that tries to take a profit for the privilege. Physicians, pharma, and device makers stay private and compete in a constrained realm between price and new types of services. They decide what is good to capitalize upon and what is good not to.

    Also, we still have a driver for efficiency – if doctors work on a fixed payment schedule, they will have to trade between cost (how much money to pocket) and quality (the likelihood that someone will actually come to their office).

    Sorry, Harry, got nothing to say to you. Almost as fruitful as debating a creationist in that case.

  22. AtlConservative says:

    Here’s the problem with your argument – if the doctor gets paid a flat rate, regardless of patients s/he stops taking new ones. Don’t believe me? Call someone in Canada. My best friend couldn’t find a pediatrician for her new born for 4 months because they don’t accept new patients. It all sounds good in theory, but doesn’t work so great in reality. My friend is sick. She has RA. She will tell you without any hesitation that hands down, health care in the states is better – and works better than a government run program in Canada. There is nothing wrong with a free market! Tear down the barriers to a true free market and things change. Pleasure debating you today! 😀

  23. nrallen says:

    AtlConservative – I agree with your argument in your 4:31 post, which I guess is why it totally mystifies me that many of you who have problems domestic partnership insurance have no problems of imposing restrictions on your own labor pool market and putting yourselves at a competitive disadvantage in attracting top talent.

    Now as for the whole I want to be able to chose an insurance pool that is comparable to me so that I am paying for similar risks to my own, I think that would be absurdly complicated and insurance companies wont offer it. As you said, you dont want to be in an insurance pool with high-medical cost risk people (like those more likely to contract AIDS) but then you for your personal reasons want to wait to have children. I am certainly not saying that is wrong, but that means you (and your future child) are at a higher risk than someone who is in their mid-twenties and has a child now. Putting aside the whole “more likely to be a child of divorce part” and just looking at the medical costs aspect, you are more likely to be more expensive then the mid-twenty girl

    So I guess the question is, how parced out should it be? And more realisticaly, how parced out can an insurance company get before the marginal costs of administering that many plans are more than the marginal revenues.

    I think PPO plans are somewhat able to let the consumer choose according to their personal risk level (ie. I have pretty high deductables, co-pays, etc because I am young and single and rarely have to go to the doctor)…..but in the end they are hardly standard in the market place and I dont hear of a lot of insurance companies clamoring to administer those types of plans

  24. odinseye2k says:

    “Here’s the problem with your argument – if the doctor gets paid a flat rate, regardless of patients s/he stops taking new ones.”

    Oh, sorry. I think you misunderstood. I meant a flat rate per patient.

    I think I can find you multiple Nobel laureates who could tell you of the problems of the free market (just as you can grab at least a couple that point to its powerful emergent qualities). I tend to like the psychological / evolutionary breeds myself.

    But yeah, pleasure to debate today. I am more than happy to deal with reasonable conservatives. It’s the ones that spit “Communist” and then walk away that I have the troubles with.

  25. Game Fan says:

    Gamefan: What part of this is about state of Georgia employees vis a vis the University system and not regulation of small business do you not understand?

    Well if it’s State employees we’re talking about my tax dollar. A good investment/risk needs no prodding from the government. But I simply stated that it’s likely to filter down to small business eventually. Too many people already think of “healthcare” as a right. Where did this come from?

    And I wanted to add a couple of additional “unintended consequences” to over-regulation of business.
    *Possibly fewer small businesses AND fewer LARGER corporations. (less competition)
    *Higher unemployment and higher expenses for the private sector in general:
    *A shift away from hiring Americans toward hiring illegals.
    *A shift toward capital intensive over labor intensive operations.
    *A shift away from productivity and towards red tape ect…
    Econ 101: It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.

  26. Harry says:

    “Now as for the whole I want to be able to chose an insurance pool that is comparable to me so that I am paying for similar risks to my own, I think that would be absurdly complicated and insurance companies wont offer it.”

    Some of us don’t wish to pay to play in your expensive one-size-fits-all pool. Health Insurance companies, just like auto insurance companies, would offer tailored. competitive products to meet consumer demand in a free market if the Democrats would allow it.

  27. odinseye2k says:

    “Too many people already think of “healthcare” as a right. Where did this come from?”

    Social contract. The idea that we work and in exchange get our very basic needs met. Used to be food and shelter, but now that we are in the 21st Century and a lot of disease is relatively easy to deal with, basic health is starting to join in. And then if you work harder or specialize, you do better than the bare minimum. At least in the ideal world where the world doesn’t suddenly open to Indian competition when accountants rather than engineers assign the work.

    Also, you may want to be careful in the over-regulation bit. If everyone ends up with their own health care (as in a public system), we may actually end up with *more* small business as some of the risk of trying something on your own diminishes. Yes, you may fail, but you can be more certain your family doesn’t suffer in the bargain.

    I would also contest the fewer large businesses bit of regulation. You get consolidation when the competition centers on price rather than innovation (you also see this in evolutionary simulations without niches – convergence to the optimum is strong), which is the mark of a mature industry. Now, regulation does increase barriers to entry, so you’ll see fewer new businesses.

    Also, the dirty secret of the good side of regulation – it makes it possible for businessmen to be the good guy. The guy with some higher ethics doesn’t have to worry about the competition cutting corners on him for the win.

  28. nrallen says:

    Dont lump me in with that, I agree to an extent. I just dont think that it will happen from the health insurance company’s standpoint. As I pointed out, PPO’s do essentially that with the consumer picking and choosing how much they want to pay according to their personal risk level, and they frankly have not taken the market place by storm

  29. Harry says:

    I’m talking about is something more akin to what life insurance companies do with their applicant pools. I don’t know if it is PC for them to look at “lifestyle choices”, but they should.

  30. Game Fan says:

    The best thing about this idea would possibly be that many of the “domestic partner” types are also part of the “well informed” segment of the population and therefore recognize that whenever you empower the “control” segment of the population (in this case the socialists) you empower the same team which attempts to regulate “alternatives” (real free markets and competition) out of existence. Pay attention conservatives. And those on the “corporate plantation” (Neo-conservatives) will never be able to make a good case for the latter.

  31. “It has everything to do with the potential for short term arrangements causing long term hassles. I think I’d be more comfortable if they at least establish a live-in period of a year or so. Make sure the couple is actually in a long-term relationship and not a six month thing that ends badly”

    This problem could be solved if there was only some sort of way that couples of any sex could come together in a legal manner that showed some level of commitment. We could call it “marriage”, for example. Just something to think about- maybe some of our legislators could consider this in January.

  32. Game Fan says:

    Personally I’ve never had a BIG problem with “domestic partnerships”, especially for tax reasons. However the liberals insist on blurring the lines between this and marriage. If I were gay and was interested in this issue I would be asking who’s waging this full frontal assault on basic institutions on my behalf. Sometimes liberals are their own worst enemy.

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