Administration: Pet Insurance Not a Federal Benefit

Posted October 15, 2010 at 7:06pm

The Obama administration on Friday clarified that the federal government does not offer its employees pet insurance after an Aetna promotion suggested otherwise — and led to news reports juxtaposing the benefit with the fact that federal employees’ same-sex partners are not eligible for health benefits.

The Office of Personnel Management called it “grossly inaccurate” that some news reports are making the pet insurance claim and contrasting it with the lack of benefits for gay couples. The claim began after Aetna sent out an e-mail Friday morning to federal employees insured through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program that advertised the company’s new pet insurance plans.

“In these challenging economic times, it’s good to know you can get some financial protection for unexpected illness and injury to your pets,” the e-mail stated.

But OPM officials said in a statement that while Aetna is a participating carrier in the federal benefits program, pet insurance is not a federal benefit.

“Aetna, on its own initiative, offers a variety of discount products to its members, including gym memberships, weight loss programs, eyewear, vitamins, etc. Pet insurance is one of these products,” the statement said.

Aetna has since apologized for referencing the federal benefits program in its advertisement.

As for the suggestion that same-sex-partner benefits are not a priority to the administration, “Nothing could be further from the truth,” the OPM statement added.

“The Obama administration believes in granting equal rights and benefits to gay and lesbian federal employees as demonstrated by the president’s strong support of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which will provide full benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers,” it stated.