The Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees approved the expansion of health benefits for employees to include Household Member benefits.
A household member is defined as an adult who lives in the employee's home for at least 18 months but is not a tenant or boarder or already a dependent of the employee, without regard to marital status or gender.
University Counsel Tom Butcher said the Household Member program is different than same-sex plans which are banned by state law. “That was about civil union. We’re not recognizing that. We’re recognizing those who live in the same household. This is a benefit irrespective of gender or marital status. The program follows the law as articulated by the Michigan Supreme Court,” he said.
David Smith, director of benefits services at Grand Valley, said the cost of the benefit will be minimal. “The cost is projected to be less than 1 percent of the health insurance budget – approximately $180,000 of the current health budget of $18.2 million,” he said.
Smith said the new, three-year trial benefit will help Grand Valley attract and retain talented faculty and also reflects changing demographics. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, as of 2006, only 49.7 percent of households include a married couple with children. A special report from Census 2000 reports that 5.5 million couples live together without being married, up from 3.2 million in 1990.
A document with more information about the benefits is available for download here.