The University of Virginia will no longer provide insurance coverage to the working spouses of its employees, a move university officials hope will save "millions of dollars."
Starting Jan. 1, employee spouses who have health insurance coverage under their employers cannot get coverage under UVa’s plan. If the spouse is covered under a plan defined by the Affordable Care Act as “minimum value” and “affordable,” they will no longer be eligible.
Cutting off working spouses with access to health insurance is part of the university’s plan to save money in the long-term, said UVa spokesman McGregor McCance.
If employees wish to keep their spouses enrolled, they must certify their spouses do not have access to health care coverage with their current employer during open enrollment, between Oct. 7 and Oct. 25. If both spouses are employed with the university, they both keep their coverage.
Coverage for children and stepchildren will not change.
How many employees and spouses will be affected by the change will not be certain until after the open enrollment procedure, McCance said.
Officials said the move is necessary to rein in growing medical costs and allow the university to focus on preventive care for its employees.
Total medical claims grew 28 percent, from $99 million to $127 million, between 2008 and 2012. This year, administrators expect costs to rise about 6.8 percent. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will cost the university about $7 million in 2014, and by 2018, the university will have to pay a 40 percent tax on its individual premium plans, officials said in a news release .
The university is also requiring employees to complete an online health survey and sign up for a health screening by Oct. 31 to avoid an increase in premiums. Employees can submit lab results from their doctors, taken anytime between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 of this year, in lieu of the screening, according to the release.
Susan Carkeek , the university’s chief human resources officer, said the assessment is to identify long-term trends and common health risks. The university, she said, “will only use aggregated data with no employee names. These data help us identify trends and guide our wellness efforts.”
The university is also adding a $10-a-month incentive for employees who certify that they and all the adults in their household are tobacco-free.
UVa has seen the number of high-cost claims, those exceeding $100,000 and involving serious medical conditions, more than double, from 44 in 2008 to 104 in 2012. McCance said the university is increasingly trying to emphasize preventive care, which could help identify problems before they become serious.
“If we can do that, theoretically, that can help contain rising health care costs over time,” he said.