Actuarial estimate on civil unions

Not often actuaries get involved in the gay marriage debate, but here’s a snip from an editorial in my old hometown’s newspaper:

The more “explanations” we hear about a city committee’s decision to not provide dependent health insurance for employees in civil unions, the more ridiculous this situation becomes.

First the Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee accepted at face value a laughable actuarial estimate that put the cost of providing insurance to civil union partners somewhere near the cost of providing free daily helicopter valet service to those employees. This despite the fact that not a single city employee at the moment has asked for civil union benefits.

Then the actuary himself explained the reason for estimating it would cost $725,000 for the city to comply with the state civil union law. Offering this benefit, wrote Ray Martin of the St. Louis firm MarAcon LLC, would invite a flood of new claims, as unmarried same- and opposite-sex couples rushed into civil unions to get cheap insurance. He estimated offering the benefit would lead to 65 civil union couples joining the city self-insurance program. (Sangamon County issued 106 civil union licenses in 2011.)

Of course, I haven’t seen Mr. Martin’s work product, so I don’t know if this opinion piece characterizes it accurately.

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