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Health move at Time

Time Inc., on the heels of big brother Time Warner, has instituted same-sex health coverage, making it the first major news organization to do so.

“Time Warner instituted the coverage quietly for its own corporate staff on a trial basis around the beginning of the year,” said Richard Jennings, director of Hollywood Helps, a non-profit organization that works to ease workplace fears about HIV status and sexual orientation. “Now that they’ve extended the coverage to Time Inc., I would assume that the trial was successful.”

A Time Warner spokesman could not be reached for comment.

In fact, a number of Time Warner subsidiaries have been making the change to same-sex coverage, including Warner Bros. in July 1993 and HBO. The inclusion of Time Inc. extends that coverage to 3,000 more employees.

Another major obstacle to same-sex coverage is falling by the wayside as a number of national insurers are offering such coverage to businesses who do not have their own in-house health plan. Among those offering the option — at least in limited parts of the country — are Aetna, Cigna and Prudential. Kaiser Southern California recently added the coverage for clients with more than 100 employees, subject to certain contingencies.

“This has all happened in just the last couple of months,” Jennings said. “Up until this time, it’s been a real obstacle for companies with under 500 employees.”

Among the entertainment companies that have benefited from this changeover is InterMedia Partners, a cable operating company, which picks up its health coverage from Cigna.

Jennings believes the national insurers are only offering the coverage in limited areas of the country because the process is competition-driven.

“Once one company offers it, then another will offer it in the same area,” he said. “But it’s becoming a fairly well-known practice within the insurance industry.”

Time Warner is now one of a number of entertainment conglomerates that offer the coverage, including MCA Inc. and Viacom Inc.

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