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Employers Spend Millions on Employees' Spouses Health Insurance

By Kelley Weiss

Kansas City, MO – In Missouri employers spend millions of dollars a year to extend health insurance benefits to employees' spouses. A new report examines who is paying the most to offer this coverage and if it's cost-effective. KCUR's Kelley Weiss reports.

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The Missouri Foundation for Health hired an Emory University economist to study how much money employers spend on non-employees health insurance costs. In Missouri, the report estimates employees spend almost $900 million a year to give health care benefits to employees spouses.

Leslie Reed, of the Missouri Health Foundation, says mainly larger companies can afford to extend coverage - about 50 percent of Missourians are on their spouse's health plan. But, she says this causes an inequality in cost distribution.

Leslie Reed: "What's difficult is that it makes it more and more expensive for these large employers to continue to offer insurance and to continue to offer the same quality of insurance."

She says many smaller employers can't afford to give their staff health insurance although they'd like to. This means more people are going without insurance and those that have it pay more and get less in benefits. Reed says in the future maybe employers will not be able to continue to provide insurance coverage because of the rising expenses.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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