Employers Trim Health Costs Using Obamacare As Cover

Many of these practices began well before the federal health law took effect. But several news outlets report that the law is giving businesses cover to shift additional costs onto employees and their families -- an effort that may reinforce the law's unpopularity.

The Wall Street Journal: The Perils Of Out-Of-Pocket Health Costs
Small businesses offering health insurance tend to require their employees to cover significantly more out-of-pocket than do big companies—and new limits imposed by the health-care law likely won't ease the pain. At businesses with fewer than 200 workers, for example, employees pay an average of $1,715 a year out-of-pocket to cover their deductibles—the amount the insured pays before coverage kicks in. That is almost double the average outlay by workers with individual coverage offered by larger employers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (Needleman and Loten, 9/18).

NPR: Employers Trim Health Costs By Cutting Coverage For Spouses
When UPS told workers that it would no longer offer health coverage for spouses who had their own job-based insurance, it caused a big stir. But the shipping giant has plenty of company. So many employers are trying to cut back on health coverage for spouses that it has become a trend. The practice began well before the Affordable Care Act passed, and the connection to the law, in some cases, isn't that direct (Rovner, 9/19).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Unleashes Benefit Changes From Companies
Barack Obama wanted to change American health-care as we know it. And he is, in ways that go far beyond the goals of the Affordable Care Act. For weeks, headlines have cataloged the upheaval at private employers: UPS dropping coverage for employed spouses, IBM reworking retiree benefits (Nussbaum, 9/19).

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the city's largest employer is preparing to cut coverage for some part-timers --

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: BJC Healthcare To Reduce Health Benefits For Part-Timers, Employees Say
BJC Healthcare, the largest St. Louis employer, is preparing to cut health insurance benefits for some of its part-time employees. According to two part-time nurses with the BJC system, managers and Human Resources representatives recently began informing certain employees that those who do not work at least 24 hours per week will be ineligible for health benefits (Doyle, 9/19).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.