March 16-18, 2005

 

ITEM 126-107-R0305                  Approval of Additional Dependent Coverage, MUS Group Health Insurance Plan

 

THAT:                                       The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes the Commissioner of Higher Education, as administrator of the Montana University System group health plan, to include additional optional dependent coverage, at employee expense, in accordance with this item.

 

EXPLANATION:                        Where there has been a common law marriage between a man and a woman, tThe Montana University System has historically given those employees the option to include, at the employee's expense, an employee's common law spouse as a dependents under the group health plan based on the couple providing an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage.  In December of 2004, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that extending these benefits to this group, based on the Affidavit, while excluding others violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Montana Constitution.

 

The Montana University System respects and accepts the definition of marriage as set forth by the people in Article XIII, § 7 of the Montana Constitution.  All benefits extended to employees of the Montana University System based on marriage shall comply with the Constitutional definition.  It is also the intention of the Montana University System to seek to extend benefits to dependents of employees when such extension can be based on sound insurance principles and laws regulating group insurance plans.  Furthermore, any extension of benefits must be at the employees option and expense. Consistent with these principles, the Montana University System elects to extend additional optional group insurance benefits to dependents of employees, at the employee's expense, subject to the conditions and restrictions indicated by sound group insurance principles.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:              The recommended additional dependent coverage will allow coverage for one adult dependent of a covered employee upon the showing of dependent status through specified criteria established by the Commissioner of Higher Education.