New rules leading to employers dropping family members

Get ready for the new health care reality — some employers faced with Affordable Care Act rules are dropping insurance coverage for employees’ spouses.

United Parcel Service, which employed nearly 400,000 people at the end of 2012, is dropping coverage for thousands of working spouses of their white collar employees. Children of these employees will remain eligible for coverage, but of the 33,000 spouses on this UPS plan about 15,000 who have jobs elsewhere will have to get coverage from their own employers. Spouses who don’t work or don’t have access to employer-offered insurance will remain covered.

ACA, also known as Obamacare, requires some employers to provide affordable coverage to employees — affordable by definition of the law — but not to their spouses or families. As companies scramble to comply with the new rules, some are reconsidering whether they can still afford to provide much more expensive family coverage.

According to a 2013 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, annual premiums for health coverage offered by employers for family coverage averaged $16,351 in 2013. Employees on average paid $4,565 of those premiums with employers picking up the lion’s share of the cost.

Many companies traditionally have offered family health insurance and other benefits to attract and retain good employees. Whether current fiscal considerations push many businesses to follow UPS’ lead remains to be seen.

These wrinkles that keep popping up in health care’s new face will drive changes in how Americans access and pay for health coverage. Not all of them are likely to be painless to the pocketbook.

Uncertainly is the word of the day. Americans, unfortunately, will have to get used to it.


— Albuquerque Journal

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