Changes to insurance and spousal coverage growing trend

The open enrollment period for health insurance is coming to an end for many of you. Some Murray city employees say the city is unfairly changing how their family is covered. That’s because the city council made the decision to change their city employees’ insurance plans: no longer covering employees’ spouses if the spouse’s workplace provides insurance.

Murray City Council’s insurance chairman, Robert Billington, told me they’re just following a trend. The city’s three biggest employers — Murray Calloway County hospital, Briggs and Stratton, and Murray State University — all made the same switch. Murray State University’s Human Resource director told me it all comes down to cost.

The key phrase is comparable coverage. Joyce Gordon, Murray State’s human resource director, says the decision to change their insurance coverage was a decision years in the making. Costs were rising, and they needed to cut them down.

"Appropriations are not something you can count on we were having to look at how we can best offer health care," Gordon says.

Gordon says they explored options, like a fee for spousal coverage, but decided to follow their neighbors’ coverage plans. She says when they made the decision to change their coverage, they carefully rolled out the change to ease employees’ fears and to make sure spouses were still covered.

"A lot of the question had to do with why we’re doing it, and I think when they learned that others in the area were doing that it wasn’t quite as scary," Gordon says.

Murray city employees tell me even trend withstanding. They’re still sacrificing a lot. One employee even told me he’s considering early retirement.

Both Murray State and the city say the change is just for spouses whose employer offers insurance and does not affect children or dependents.

As for other local cities, the city of Paducah still offers spousal coverage, and Mayfield has not covered spouses for about seven years.

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