Are unmarried domestic relationships able to share a health coverage plan? If so, are there any specific requirements for qualifying for it? (For example, living together a certain number of years, sharing a lease/mortgage, joint bank accounts, etc…)

My partner and I are interested in getting coverage together, and as far as I’m aware, my employer does not allow unmarried partners to be added to the plan, so we are looking at other plans available.


The Affordable Care Act doesn't require unmarried domestic partners to be included in family plans, but many insurers, state marketplaces, and employers offer to cover domestic partners in family plans. Unfortunately, there are some tax pitfalls because the law has tax implications for those in your federal tax family which doesn't recognize domestic partnerships. These includes: premium payments for covering a domestic partner on employer sponsored coverage being counted as taxable income, not being eligible for Premium Tax Credits on your partner's behalf (see Question 6), and the partner's plan MAY not qualify for COBRA. recommends only including domestic partners in a family plan if you have a child together OR you can claim them as a tax dependent. Being able to claim a domestic partner as a tax dependent on your federal taxes isn't impossible, but it does essentially require actual financial dependence of one domestic partner on the other. Here is more information about domestic partners with regards to federal taxes from the IRS.

As for ObamaCare's exchanges and cost assistance, domestic partners cannot get cost assistance on a family plan together. This is because you are only eligible for Premium Tax Credits for yourself and those who you claim as dependents on your tax return (the only exception is adult non-dependent children under 26). As a rule of thumb it is smarter and a safer bet to qualify based on individual incomes unless you have children together, but at the end of the day the option that you decide is best for you and your family will affect how you file federal income taxes. If you are eligible to file together you will be able to claim cost assistance together. If you don't file together then you should apply for cost assistance separately.

Some insurers may be willing to sell private health plans as family plans to domestic partners, for instance you can check with a major insurer like Blue Cross Blue Shield to see what options they have. Often major insurers will let you customize non-group, non-Marketplace, private plans. As long as you have minimal essential coverage you have met the provisions of the Individual Mandate, regardless of where that coverage was purchased.

There rules apply to same-sex and opposite-sex partners.

You can learn more about ObamaCare and domestic partners here.

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Joe Herkness on

Answer Rating:

No example, which are always helpful, thus leaving one to guess. Secondly, no discussion of the infamous income limits…. Website, however, remains a very good idea; please keep trying. :):) on

Thank you for the compliment. You can learn all about the income limits for cost assistance here:

Make sure to look at family size and calendar years when referencing the federal poverty level for cost assistance thresholds.

The reason we didn’t give specific or examples is due to the fact that our research shows that domestic partners are treated differently state-by-state in regard to health insurance. Also, it seems that insurers and employers can choose whether or not to offer coverage. As for HealthCare.Gov (or a state’s Marketplaces) and subsidies the rule of thumb is: If two people live together and file taxes together they should be able to get a family plan through Also, if two people file together they should be able to claim premium tax credits if they have a plan through We know Blue Cross Blue Shield shows that they offer plans to domestic partners on their website. So perhaps this would be the right insurer to look at?

[email protected] on

Answer Rating:

Too confusing on

Sorry to hear that. If anyone else is confused we would urge you to ask specific questions so we can address them. It is our hope that the more complex aspects of the ACA get figured out through this process.

A note on this: we are an independent ‘facts’ sites and don’t offer professional medical, legal, or tax advice. Anyone can always call HealthCare.Gov or contact an insurer with questions.

Chris Jones on

Answer Rating:

So I’m confused.

Me and my girlfriend have a daughter together and we live together in Texas. I make around 40k a year she makes about 15k. I pay for my daughters insurance with no assistance (didn’t qualify) at a cost of around $230 a month. As well as around $50 a month for my workplace plan. The GF is currently uninsured.

If she HAS to claim me as part of her household she will get no assistance from the govt and we will have to cover her with a bronze plan at a cost of around $250 a month (the very cheapest offered). After all is said and done healthcare will consume about 20% of our monthly take home pay best scenario.

We do not file taxes together. Does she have to include my income when shopping on the marketplace? If so we are in some deep trouble. on

The only thing that matters for sharing coverage or cost assistance is filing status. It doesn’t matter who lives with who, you need to be part of the same “tax family” to count income together. If you are part of the same “tax family” you can choose to be part of the same coverage family. If she makes less than you she should claim the child on her taxes so they can both get assistance. $15k should qualify her for a low cost marketplace plan… or in Texas they may both qualify for CHIP (not Medicaid itself). She should likely claim the child and then file an application with HealthCare.Gov to find out her options.

Christy on

Is it legal to tax domestic partners more for health insurance than a married couple? I have been on my fiancésite health insurance for the past several years. His company switched to an HR company this year for payroll and health insurance which made us chosee a new health insurance plan. Wit this new company they are taxing him twice as much stating that ithe is because we are domestic partners and not married. How is this legal? on

I am not compeltely sure, I think this is correct and it seems to be backed up by a simplified summary from this source:

It says:

“The IRS has determined that employment-based health benefits for domestic partners or non-spouse cohabitants can be excluded from taxable income only if the recipients are legal spouses or legal dependents.

The federal and state governments do not tax benefits for spouses. But the federal government taxes benefits for domestic partners because it does not recognize those relationships. Also, in some instances, an employee who receives benefits for a domestic partner has to pay for the premium with after-tax dollars and then pay taxes again on the cost of the benefit because it counts as income.”

If anyone has insight it would be great to have a definitive answer here.

Karl Puls on

My problem is just the opposite. I heard that the ACA is not for folks eligible for any other plan. My domestic partner has a health plan that, as her partner on a fixed pension, I can’t afford (it’s $300 /month for me) and for her is only taxed as an imputed value. Her plan is way more than what I need or want. Do I need to dissolve the domestic partnership to qualify for the ACA and it’s subsidies? A bronze plan, that is also HSA-eligible, is about $80/month, which I can afford. I don’t want to run afoul of the rules but the $300/month cost is not sustainable for me.

Erin on

Domestic Partnerships are not treated the same way on federal taxes as marriage. Premium Tax Credits are based on your federal tax family (you and those you can claim dependent exemptions for) with exceptions for non-dependent adult children (18-26) who are can be covered on their parents plans. That means there is nothing preventing you from signing up on the Marketplace and being eligible for Marketplace insurance despite the fact that your partner’s employer is offering to include you in a family plan. Taking your partner’s employer coverage can cause some tax situations which are unfavorable.

Leslie Johnson on

Yeah, I agree. It would be nice to give links to the states laws on this issue. Google search wanted to bring me to a national discussion. And your website just says it depends on the state.

If there’s no links, them at least SAY you wish that you could but…

Erin on

Thank you for your feedback. I’ve added more specific information about the potential fall backs and links to resources. We don’t have a full list of state exchanges, employers, or insurers who offer family plans that include unmarried domestic partners and those things change often. So, even if we did have a comprehensive list available, I would still recommend contacting the insurance or employer in question to find out for sure. That being said, unless you have a child together it be a tax headache to get a family plan together even when it is offered. See the updated answer above for more information.

Verna Steglich on

I have my domestic partner (opposite sex) on my health insurance my portion of the premiums should be before tax and his after. My total weekly deductions for insurance is $143. Can someone explain why they add in $174 into my earnings to be taxed instead of just his portion which should be approx. $84? Ihave tried to get answers from my benefits and payroll dept, to no avail. on

I’m not sure, does maybe someone else has an answer?

Jenika Bash on

Where do I declare that my partner covers me on her insurance plan only on my federal tax return?

Me on

Can I be on my domestic partners dental insurance and be on ACA for my medical or does this cause an issue?

Chris on

Me and my girlfriend have a child and live together, and plan to file a joint tax return, when filling out my marketplace application, do I put her in the spouse area, or the dependent area? or does it matter? on

My assumption is the dependent area due to the fact that the definition of spouse according to the IRS includes people in legally binding partnerships (I think a live in significant other is a “qualifying relative”

You will want to double check that though. Healthcare.Gov is one option. You can also see the instructions for 8962:

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