Blog Post: Spousal Surcharges: A Symptom of a Growing Crisis by Carolyn Pare, CEO, Minnesota Health Action Group

One of the thought-provoking findings from our Exclusive Annual Minnesota Employer Benchmarking Survey was that, despite the weighty administrative and enforcement challenges associated with spousal surcharges, many companies either have or are considering implementing them as a cost-saving measure.

“The concept of limiting coverage of spouses through the implementation of a surcharge or waiver program has been talked about for years. Now, businesses are actually doing it. This is a microcosm of the employee benefits environment where employers are considering every possible cost-control strategy.” This new article from Employee Benefit News evaluates the pros and cons of implementing spousal surcharges.

The critical levers for containing cost in employer-sponsored benefit programs have always been, and unfortunately continue to be, changes in eligibility, coverage and access. I say these choices are unfortunate because the real driver of steady and exorbitant cost increases in health care is the underlying fee-for-service payment system.

Until we get the waste out of the health care system and improve the efficiency and quality of services provided through the way we contract and pay for health care services, employers have no choice but to continue increasing employee cost sharing, limiting the number of plan beneficiaries, limiting access to providers, and reducing covered benefits.

No employer feels good about these tactics as solutions. But they are frequently the only choices available to individual employers that need to contain costs enough to offer a basic health care program to their employees.

This is why the Action Group works on the longer-term issues of health care delivery and payment reform. Together with our members and community leaders, we need to identify solutions that will make health care affordable for everyone.

We are a go-to resource for all purchasers of health care, whether you are a large or small employer; self-insured; private or public; for-profit or not-for-profit. Because we are focused on health care, and only health care, we create an environment for working together toward a common purpose to address common needs.

The collective strength of our members allows us to do together what no organization, company or person could do alone.

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