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Is University of Alaska ending 'opt out' health insurance spousal coverage?

Alaska Dispatch

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that the University of Alaska is considering a "spousal surcharge" of up to $1,200 for employees who have partners covered by the university's health insurance. The proposed charge is a way for the institution to cover more of its rising health care costs.

The university is also considering eliminating the UA health insurance "opt out" option. Some 437 employees statewide opt out of insurance for various reasons, many because they're covered by their spouses or receive coverage elsewhere. If the university enacted the proposal, those employees would have to start buying it. The only exemptions would be if both spouses were employed by the university.

These changes to the system were recommended by the Joint Heath Care council last month but were not immediately announced. According to the News-Miner, the UAF staff council blog has details on the proposal and has opened up a discussion for UA employees. Additionally, a memo from chief human resources officer Donald Smith saying that his staff is busy transforming the proposals into "UA Choice Plan Policy and Procedures" has lead the UA staff council blog to conclude that the changes have been approved.

Employee representatives on the committee voted against removing the opt out option.

The UA staff council blog reports that spousal surcharge and elimination of the opt-out option have received mixed reviews from staff members.

Read more on the ongoing discussion.