By Jen Wieczner
Companies have a new solution to rising health-insurance costs: Break up their employeesâ€™ marriages.
Here's the one other story thatÂ you can't afford to miss today
By denying coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. This year, companies have to pay $1 or $2 â€œper lifeâ€ covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014. And health law guidelines proposed recently mandate coverage of employeesâ€™ dependent children (up to age 26), but husbands and wives are optional. â€œThe question about whether itâ€™s obligatory to cover the family of the employee is being thought through more than ever before,â€ says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. See: When your boss doesnâ€™t trust your doctor.
While surcharges for spousal coverage are more common, last year, 6% of large employers excluded spouses, up from 5% in 2010, as did 4% of huge companies with at least 20,000 employees, twice as many as in 2010, according to human resources firm Mercer. These â€œspousal carve-outs,â€ or â€œworking spouse provisions,â€ generally prohibit only people who could get coverage through their own job from enrolling in their spouseâ€™s plan.
Such exclusions barely existed three years ago, but experts expect an increasing number of employers to adopt them: â€œThatâ€™s the next step,â€ Darling says. HMS, a company that audits plans for employers, estimates that nearly a third of companies might have such policies now. Holdouts say they feel under pressure to follow suit. â€œWeâ€™re the last domino,â€ says Duke Bennett, mayor of Terre Haute, Ind., which is instituting a spousal carve-out for the cityâ€™s health plan, effective July 2013, after nearly all major employers in the area dropped spouses.
But when employers drop spouses, they often lose more than just the one individual, when couples choose instead to seek coverage together under the other partnerâ€™s employer. Terre Haute, which pays $6 million annually to insure nearly 1,200 people including employees and their family members, received more than 20 new plan members when a local university, bank and county government stopped insuring spouses, according to Bennett. â€œWe have a great plan, so they want to be on ours. All weâ€™re trying to do is level the playing field here,â€ he says.
They just keep rolling out the cuts don't they. Everyday businesses are closing up, laying off, cutting pays. If the brains of the country has his way they are even going to take border patrol agents on vacation for awhile.Â People you are not seeing this country down on it's knees yet. Jobs are being cut, the military is bringing home ships, they will lay off some 300,000 soldiers in the up coming years to cut the cost, not to mention they will be cutting some military programs.
We have sunk and it's about to get worse.