News (USA)

Starkville to allow unmarried partners or ‘plus-1’ adult on city insurance plan

JACKSON, Miss. — A north Mississippi city is revising its health insurance plan to let municipal employees buy coverage for one other adult, including a same-sex partner.

Starkville-MSStarkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said Friday that the new insurance plan is an attempt to save money – not to make a political statement.

“It’s a much better policy and offers broader more flexible options for employees,” Wiseman told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Wiseman said elected officials review the municipal insurance plan every year as part of the budget-writing process. Aldermen approved the plan Tuesday, and it becomes available Oct. 1, the first day of the city’s new fiscal year.

Starkville provides insurance for each municipal employee, which costs the city of about $390 per employee each month. Until now, an employee could purchase coverage for other people, but the only option was a full family plan that would cost the employee about $600 a month.

The new plan, still with Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Mississippi, keeps the full family plan as an option but includes other, less expensive options: Adding one adult for $348 or unlimited children for $269 a month.

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Wiseman said under the new plan, an employee could purchase coverage for any other adult with whom the employee has a financial connection – a spouse, an unmarried partner of the same-sex or opposite sex, a parent, or even a friend who lives in another home.

He said, for example, that a municipal worker could purchase coverage for a best friend who lives down the street and is uninsured.

Earlier this year, Starkville became the first Mississippi municipality to adopt a resolution saying the it would not tolerate any form of discrimination, including bias against LGBT citizens. Since then, at least six other cities have adopted similar resolutions.

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