Bob S asked about something that is becoming increasingly common:
an old friend of mine (and his wife) get their health insurance through his employer — as I understand it, the cost is charged to his gross income and he pays somewhat more to have both he and his wife covered than if it were just him. However, because his wife is offered (and declines) coverage by her employer, his employer charges him an additional fee. Apparently this policy was begun soon after implementation of the ACA and consequently he blames ObamaCare for the extra $120/month he’s being charged after already paying for spousal coverage. Is this in fact a stipulation of the ACA, or is his employer just taking advantage of the timing to gouge him for a few dollars more?
This is not ACA related. It is employers seeking to minimize their costs by covering as few people as possible while taking advantage of an extremely weak labor market to change the terms of the social contract.
Speaking behind the veil of ignorance, tying health coverage to employment is just odd, and the ACA is slowly dissolving those bonds. Employers offer health insurance becuase they can offer their employees a better deal if the insurance is purchased as a group than if they buy it on the individual market. This better deal is due to tax treatment, statistical variance control, a healthier population than the general population, and bulk purchasing. Employers really don’t want to pay to cover an entire family but the social contract has been that they have to offer family coverage if they want to attract and retain middle class workers.
That implied social contract was formed when it was typical that a married family had one person (usually the husband) working at a job with good benefits and the other person (usually the wife) was either not working or working at a low wage/low benefit position.
That reality has changed dramatically.
And employers are trying to not pay to cover people that they don’t have to while still offering at least the patina of offering family coverage. The goal of the scheme is to divert people (usually spouses, sometimes adult children) away from the best insurance deal to lower coverage values by increasing the relative cost of the best insurance deal.
My wife’s company does this. She could cover our family for $193 a month for a Gold plan if I was not working at a job with health insurance available to me. Since I do have an ACA qualified plan offered to me, I am ineligible to get on her family plan unless I pay a $200 a month surcharge over and above the family rate. For us, this is not a problem, as Mayhew Insurance allows my wife to come onto my plan, and our monthly premium deduction for a Gold Plus plan is less than half of my wife’s company’s charge.
If I did not work for Mayhew Insurance but worked at MegaEvilBank that offers a Bronze plan only to its employees, $300/month might be worthwhile for me to go to the much better plan with a $1500 out of pocket max instead of the $6,500 deductible. But my wife’s employer is trying to minimize the number of people they actually have to cover and pay for. The covered spouse surcharge does that by first diverting spouses who are covered under shitty insurance to jump to good insurance and secondly getting some of their employees to go on the spouse’s coverage that does not have a surcharge.