Philly Could Offer Incentives for LGBT Health Plans

Find out what Councilman James Kenney has in mind for life partners

Same-sex couples in Philly could soon access the same health care as their straight co-workers (photo by Think Stock)

For Councilman James Kenney, offering new health care protections for same-sex couples simply makes good financial sense. That’s why he’s introduced a bill that would offer tax incentives to employers who offer health plans for LGBT and partnered employees. Kenney says that in addition to the tax breaks attracting more job growth and talent to the city, it’s also an important step toward LGBT equality.

“All Philadelphians deserve nothing less than dignified and equal treatment at work, at the hospital or doctor, and from their government; regardless of marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation,” Kenney says. But up until now, state laws have made it problematic for both same-sex and life partners to access equal benefits in Philly – the same benefits that straight employees and married couples have been enjoying for years.

And the timing is essential. Kenney says that even though Philly is the sixth largest city in the country, it’s 90th out of 100 in job growth. But the breakdown of LGBT demographics shows that not only are LGBT Americans well-educated (66 percent are college grads and almost one million are military veterans), but that 60 percent are homeowners, almost 40 percent make purchasing decisions at work and comprise at least five percent of the overall consumer market in the U.S.

And the total buying power? It’s projected to be somewhere close to $790 billion.

To push for this new bill, Kenney has taken a page from the play books of Fortune 500 companies, more than half of which already offer health benefits to same-sex and unmarried partners. And 27 of these companies (ones that are based in Pennsylvania) also have LGBT-friendly policies that prohibit discrimination.

So what would the legislation really mean for employers and employees alike? Here’s a breakdown:

-The reforms would include both same-sex and long-term partners (including unmarried heterosexuals) who would have access to the same health care their straight, married co-workers do.

-Businesses who offer health care to life partners would receive tax breaks.

-The life partner’s plans would match an employer’s existing benefit plan, with guaranteed hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights.

-Transgender individuals would have a “self identity” gender option on all city forms.

-Same-sex parents would be able to indicate “parent 1” and “parent 2” on all city forms.

-City employees would also have access to pension and survivor benefits, as well as any fallen heroes awards and health care benefits.

If you are in a same-sex or life partnership, you’re encouraged to register with the city. Click here or call 215-686-4670 for more information.