Still More Bad News for Those Who Thought They Could Keep Their Health Care Plans

Link:

Companies have a new solution to rising health-insurance costs: Break up their employees’ marriages.

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 “per life” covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014. And health law guidelines proposed recently mandate coverage of employees’ dependent children (up to age 26), but husbands and wives are optional. “The question about whether it’s obligatory to cover the family of the employee is being thought through more than ever before,” says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. See: When your boss doesn’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 “spousal carve-outs,” or “working spouse provisions,” generally prohibit only people who could get coverage through their own job from enrolling in their spouse’s plan.

Such exclusions barely existed three years ago, but experts expect an increasing number of employers to adopt them: “That’s the next step,” 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. “We’re the last domino,” says Duke Bennett, mayor of Terre Haute, Ind., which is instituting a spousal carve-out for the city’s health plan, effective July 2013, after nearly all major employers in the area dropped spouses.

And who needs to keep insuring the actual pesky employees?

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 partner’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. “We have a great plan, so they want to be on ours. All we’re trying to do is level the playing field here,” he says.

Of course, the inability to keep one’s health care plan may well interfere with the ability to see the doctor one prefers.

I think that it would have been nice to have anticipated and discussed these consequences before health care “reform” was passed. Alas, a certain person who was—and still is—far more powerful than me thought differently.

  1. Nick Stuart

    The people who got the Affordable Care Act passed had no interest in fixing any problem. They wanted to create such a mess that it would leave the country screaming for single-payer. They’ll keep their coverage, they’ll keep their doctors. That’s all that matters to them.

  2. BrentB67

    Very good comments by Nick.

    This highlights a larger problem – why is it employer’s responsibility to provide health insurance. One of the key problems with the US healtchare industry is the disconnect between who makes healthcare choices and who ultimately pays the bill.

    Health insurance is compensation just like salary, commission, bonus, etc. tax it as such and get employers out of the health insurance business. Consumers will be able to purchase their own insurance and influence the market with their choices. Of course this will also require repeal of EMTALA, but that is just an added bonus.

  3. Eleanor

    So glad you have brought this this up. It seems the point is to have no health care coverage for most people. If one can no longer get personal insurance because that kind of insurance is put out of business and the push is for higher taxes to fund all manner of thing yet to be contemplated via VAT or whatever, what would be left? And surely those who have true Cadillac plans, as do our elected representatives, have no incentive to allow the rest of us to choose anything except not-life.

    Also BrentB67 is on point. It the getting the coverage from elsewhere than the employer and remaining commensurately compensated that is also concerning.

  4. Duane Oyen

    We will never win anything or solve any problems as long as our basic answer is “He## NO!” on everything, and  the primary goal on our side is to explain to everyone who has an actual problem that the government should not be in that business in the first place- even if that is true.

    You don’t reassure some retiree that you care whether she survives by saying that Social Securty is a crock that should not exist, or complaining now that a big cause of financial problems is because the left-wing Bush signed Medicare Part D.

    Pat Caddell has a point about the stoopid party.

    If we stopped whining about enumerated powers and listened to voters for a change we might be able to achieve market-based entitlement reforms.

  5. Skyler

    Oh, now I get it.  By destroying the entire health insurance industry, people will go back to paying their own medical bills and the medical industry will work to make it more affordable.  

    That crafty Obama.

  6. DocJay

    An interesting article in Time recently about the odd nature of medical bills. Big Pharma, Big Hospital, Big Med-Tech, Big Big Insurance, and Big ancillary services are all slimy in their own fashion. It is all so darn overpriced and confusing that it leaves people very frustrated. This will end in national health care, I have no doubt. The combined DC lobbying over the last 14 years is three times that of the military industrial complex. Patients get screwed, by everyone!

  7. Free Radical

    Right of center types need to make the argument that if an individual can shop for their own car, cell phone, flat screen TV, home, life insurance, … then they are capable of shopping for the best health care for themselves.

  8. DocJay

    It’s about time that right of center people also realize it’s disgusting, rigged crony capitalist game that just got worse. Shop around, think outside the box but know this, the system now is failing and the accellerator just got pressed a couple years ago.

  9. Indaba

    Are doctors less able to organize themselves to prevent this socialization if their industry?

  10. Duane Oyen
    DocJay: An interesting article in Time recently about the odd nature of medical bills. Big Pharma, Big Hospital, Big Med-Tech, Big Big Insurance, and Big ancillary services are all slimy in their own fashion. It is all so darn overpriced and confusing that it leaves people very frustrated. This will end in national health care, I have no doubt. The combined DC lobbying over the last 14 years is three times that of the military industrial complex. Patients get screwed, by everyone! · 5 hours ago

    All true.  Why do you think former hospital exec Rick Scott just signed on in Florida?  Of course- to preserve incumbents’ revenue streams.

    I’ve dealt with every aspect of Big Medicine and Big Defense.  On the whole, the Military-Industrial Complex has more integrity.

  11. DocJay

    Indaba, all we have is a corrupt AMA which represents mostly specialists and a small percentage of them at that. Duane, the Medical-Industrial complex will be intently looked at in the next decade.

  12. Dudley

    I think that it would have been nice to have anticipated and discussed these consequences before health care “reform” was passed.

    Not if the ultimate goal is universal, single payer. Obamacare is just the downpayment, a first bite at the apple if you will, before the ‘solution’ to all the problems introduced by Obamacare is presented as universal, single payer.  It is only a matter of time. A short time.

  13. Pejman Yousefzadeh: Win.

    Skyler: Oh, now I get it.  By destroying the entire health insurance industry, people will go back to paying their own medical bills and the medical industry will work to make it more affordable.  

    That crafty Obama. · February 23, 2013 at 12:19pm

    3 hours ago

    Is this sarcasm?

  14. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    Win.

    Skyler: Oh, now I get it.  By destroying the entire health insurance industry, people will go back to paying their own medical bills and the medical industry will work to make it more affordable.  

    That crafty Obama. · February 23, 2013 at 12:19pm

  15. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    Yes.

    PracticalMary

    Pejman Yousefzadeh: Win.

    Skyler: Oh, now I get it.  By destroying the entire health insurance industry, people will go back to paying their own medical bills and the medical industry will work to make it more affordable.  

    That crafty Obama. · February 23, 2013 at 12:19pm

    3 hours ago

    Is this sarcasm? · February 25, 2013 at 5:48am

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