Spouses work at same company — now have to enroll separately

My wife and I have worked for the same company for 20 years. I have had family coverage for all of those years. This year they are saying my wife must get her own separate insurance. This is going to cost us an additional $2,000 a year.  Is this legal? What’s the purpose in signing up for “family” insurance if you can’t cover your spouse?  Please help.


Dear Fuming,

I take it that she will have to pay part of the cost of her “single” health insurance plan, and the cost is higher than covering her as a spouse on your plan. I’m not sure what the employer is accomplishing by doing this, except increasing the cost to employees.

Yes, it is legal for an employer to refuse to cover spouses as long as they use the same rule on all employees and families. Some employers refuse to cover spouses who have health insurance offered to them from another employer.  Other employers charge the employee more to cover the spouse, if the spouse has another employer plan open to him/her.

I had not heard of an employer refusing to cover a spouse who works for the same company — that’s a new one!  You might want to ask your company for the details on the new rule.  There are some questions that you might want answers to.  If your wife retires, could you cover her then?  You need to know so that you can plan.


Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.