The future of health care coverage?

Earlier this month my employer sent a letter to all employees informing us of changes to benefits for the coming year. Last year we were informed the company was going to be switching over to a Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP) for 2014.  Having had a CDHP at my previous employer, I was excited to have access to one again.

One of the key features of a CDHP is a Health Savings Account (HSA), where you can contribute pre-tax dollars to fund out-of-pocket health related expenses.  Unlike Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), money in HSA accounts can be rolled over into the next plan year.  Given the fact that our family is generally healthy, we can save money since CDHP plans generally have lower premiums than the old PPO plans. There is still a PPO plan available to employees who need more robust coverage.

I was surprised when the company announced it would no longer cover working spouses or domestic partners who had access to health care coverage through their own employers.  This change does not impact my family since my husband doesn’t work and my first thought was it was a smart decision to save money, with minimal impact to employees.  I’m sure there are employees whose spouses have access to comparable healthcare at comparable costs.
The families that will be heavily impacted by the change are those whose partners have access to healthcare but at a higher cost.  Spouses will still have access to all other benefits (dental, vision, life insurance) . I understand the decision was made so employee health care costs would not rise this year.  The company health care covers more dependents (spouses, children) than employees, so the costs can be significant.

I appreciate the company took a look at different options and I see this as a reasonable compromise, even though some employees and their families will be negatively impacted in the end.  I believe this is just one of many steps companies will be taking in the near future to deal with rising costs.  What changes are your company making to deal with the rising cost of providing benefits?


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