June 2015 Issue
May 22, 2015

Insurance changes widen the gap between wages and out of pocket costs

Author: By Sue Klug
Source: NYSUT United

To cope with the cost of health insurance, some employers are changing subsidized coverage for spouses. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation/HRET national survey of health benefits for 2014, covered workers contribute an average of 18 percent ($1,081) for single coverage and 29 percent ($4,823) of the premium for family coverage.

Besides the existing practice of charging higher percentages for family coverage, some private sector employers are considering instituting a premium surcharge if a working spouse does not enroll in available coverage at their own place of employment.

Other employers are considering eliminating coverage for spouses or allowing them to enroll but requiring them to pay 100 percent of the cost. Some states, including New York, have regulations for insured plans that do not allow the spouse's eligibility to be based on whether the spouse has other coverage elsewhere. Self-insured plans may only be subject to federal regulations.

Although the rate of increase in health costs has dropped during recent years, changes in eligibility and premium share is shifting costs to workers. This increases the gap between workers' wages and out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance.