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New Union Contract Drops Health Insurance For Spouses

Cincinnati-based grocer Kroger has become the latest to cut health care coverage for workers’ spouses.

The newly negotiated contract applies to only 11,000 Kroger workers in Indiana, but it puts Kroger at the leading edge of a growing movement to restrict or eliminate spousal coverage.

The Indiana contract still covers the children of employees and keeps spouses on dental and vision plans. It also provides a one-time, $1,000 payment to the 15 percent of employees who will be affected by the change.

The Indiana deal is expected to become the template for other union deals yet to be negotiated.

Experts say two forces are driving the change on spousal benefits, rising costs of health care and the implementation of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Some companies, including UPS last month, have prohibiting coverage if spouses could get insurance elsewhere.