Some Employers Really Want To Ditch Your Spouse

It’s nothing personal, but some employers really want to ditch their workers’ spouses. They’re not making people get divorced, but are dropping spouses who have access to health insurance benefits through their own employers. It was big news yesterday when UPS announced that they plan to do exactly that, a change that affects about 15,000 people.

While the Affordable Care Act will add many people to the rolls of health insurance companies and extend coverage for employees’ kids until they turn 26, there’s no requirement that husbands and wives be included. According to Marketwatch, that has led more employers to consider dropping spouses.

Many companies already discourage spouses from signing up on their plans. Surcharges are common, and average about $100 per month. If that’s still cheaper than coverage through the spouse’s employer or none is available at all, then both members of the couple enroll and it costs the employer $1,200 less per year to provide that benefit. Having different policies in the family is complicated, since it means evaluating which policy to put the kids under. Other employers only let spouses with their own insurance use their plan as secondary coverage.

Most of the stay-at-home parents who need a spouse’s insurance benefits are women, and women tend to use more health care in general. (Especially when they give birth to those children they’re staying home to parent.)

Once open health insurance exchanges where anyone can apply for coverage are available in 2014, employers might dump spouses who don’t have access to coverage through their own jobs.

Why your boss is dumping your wife [Marketwatch]