UPS made a news splash yesterday when it announced it is dropping coverage for spouses of employees if they are offered coverage through their own employers. The delivery company expects to remove 15,000 working spouses from its health coverage next year, saving the company about $60 million a year.
And UPS isn’t the only one. Dropping spousal coverage has become a trend among employers due to continually rising health care costs. Obamacare’s wide variety of benefit and coverage mandates combined with new fees, taxes, and penalties of course all increase the cost of coverage, intensifying the trend. The University of Virginia made a similar announcement yesterday.
According to a new survey by consultants Towers Watson, in 2013, 4 percent of surveyed employers excluded working spouses from coverage and another 8 percent plan to do so in 2014.
There’s no ambiguity here. UPS was clear that Obamacare played a large role in its decision to change its plan structure:
“[T]he ACA has mandated several changes that have been impacting the cost of coverage for UPS employees since its implementation. These include:
- Coverage for dependent children up to age 26; regardless of whether they are enrolled in school, are married, or (beginning 2014) have coverage available from their own employer;
- Removal of lifetime and annual benefit limits;
- Fees for comparative effectiveness research; and
- Fees to help fund the public exchanges.
We are making these changes to, in part, offset cost increases due to the ACA and so that healthcare premiums remain the same for most of our people.” (Page 18 of the memo).
And many more changes to employer-sponsored insurance are likely to come in the near future. According to the Towers Watson survey, when asked how they thought plans would change by 2018—the year that Obamacare’s “Cadillac” tax on high-cost plans takes effect—92 percent of employers said plans would be different, with 47 percent saying they anticipated significant or transformative change.
Do you like your health care plan? Sorry. With Obamacare in effect, costs are going up and plans are changing. If lawmakers would defund this unworkable law, we could focus on health care reform that puts people in charge of the type of health coverage they want.
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