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Family Health Care Premiums Going up

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NEW YORK, Sep 09, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- As U.S. employees re-enroll in company health care plans this fall, those with families may find their premiums and out-of-pocket charges higher.

The Wall Street Journal reported employers are realizing that the bulk of the double-digit health care rate increases come from employee spouses and children.

"More employers are looking at how many dependents are on their plans and whether they can control costs by driving some of them elsewhere," said Tom Beauregard of Hewitt Associates, an employee-benefits consulting firm.

Large companies that usually have generous family health benefits can find up to 70 percent of their health costs come from spouses' and children's expenses, according to Beauregard.

As a result many firms are sharply increasing the premium for family members or providing incentives to push working spouses off the plans. Some employers are simply refusing to cover spouses who work for companies with similar health plans.

According to a survey of 540 companies by Hewitt, 31 percent said they would consider requiring working spouses to take their own employers' health care plans.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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