Health care plan changes include modifications to spouse, partner costs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State officials are enacting comprehensive changes to the University’s self-insured health care plan to mitigate significant projected cost increases.

Among the changes to be enacted on Jan. 1, 2014, is a monthly surcharge of approximately $100 for employees' spouses and same-sex domestic partners (SSDPs) who elect to enroll in University coverage when coverage is available through their own employer. Employees whose spouses/SSDPs have no option to receive health care coverage through another employer will not be impacted by this change. At this time, the surcharge will not apply to employees whose spouses/SSDPs also are employed at Penn State.

"Penn State’s primary duty for providing health care is to our employees who have enrolled in the University's health care plan, as well as to their eligible dependents,” said Susan Basso, vice president of Human Resources. “Through this change, employees’ spouses and same-sex domestic partners who have the option of receiving coverage through their own employers will retain the option of keeping Penn State-administered health care. However, we are now asking them for an additional monthly contribution for that choice."

Spousal/SSDP insurance surcharges have gained popularity among employers in recent years as a method to ensure that spouses/SSDPs of employees who have access to their own employer’s group health insurance are financially encouraged to use their own available plan. Many other employers have made similar changes to help address years of escalating costs that they, like the University, can no longer sustain without intervention. Some employers no longer even subsidize spousal coverage. However, this is not the approach Penn State is taking. The University has opted to enact a standardized monthly surcharge to help offset added expenses of this option.

The spousal insurance surcharge will require employees to determine which of the health plans available to them is the most economical and best suits the needs of their family. Even with the surcharge, the Penn State health plan may continue to be the better option. 

Employees who have questions about this or any of the initiatives outlined are encouraged to contact their human resources representatives, or to contact the Penn State Office of Human Resources at benefits@psu.edu or 814-865-1473. More detailed information will be distributed to employees in late August. 

Employees who are a part of the University’s Teamsters’ collective bargaining agreement will not see any health care benefit changes during the current contract term, which expires June 30, 2014.

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Last Updated August 22, 2013