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Konecranes stops health coverage of working spouses

Springfield company says rising costs, new rules led to decision.

Crane equipment manufacturer Konecranes will stop providing health insurance coverage to employees’ spouses who are eligible for insurance through their employers, said Scott Gilbey, company spokesman.

Konecranes will continue to cover spouses who do not have access to a health plan, Gilbey said.

The change is driven by rising health care costs, he said.

“It is a trend with many companies as everybody works to interpret the implication of the new health care act,” he said. “Ultimately, the company is concerned that everybody has proper health care.”

The change to Konecranes’ health insurance plan is effective Jan. 1, 2014, and impacts company employees in the U.S., Gilbey said.

Gilbey said the change was triggered by certain measures of the Affordable Care Act, and he cited a “Cadillac Tax” provision, “which effectively penalizes Konecranes for providing above average benefits to its employees.”

Other companies excluding working spouses from coverage include package delivery company United Parcel Service Inc., impacting regional UPS workers in West Carrollton and Sharonville. Dayton-area hospital system Premier Health is also making the change.

Konecranes Region Americas at 4401 Gateway Blvd. in Springfield is the company’s headquarter offices for operations in North, Central and South Americas. The Finnish company also has assembly and warehouse operations in Springfield and a crane assembly plant in Franklin.

The company has 261 employees in Springfield, 36 in Franklin and more than 2,700 in the Americas, Gilbey said.

Nearly 40 percent of employers anticipate making changes to their health plans for 2014 due to the increase in employee health care costs, according to benefits consultant Towers Watson.

One area that employers are focusing on is coverage for spouses and dependents.

Nationwide, 20 percent of nearly 600 large employers in a survey completed earlier this year charged a spousal surcharge on premiums in 2013. An additional 13 percent plan to do so next year, according to the study, which was conducted by Towers Watson and the nonprofit National Business Group on Health.

The study also found that 4 percent of companies excluded spouses from their health plans when similar coverage was available through the spouse’s employer. And another 8 percent planned to do so next year.

“Companies are facing rising health care costs and must make some tough decisions in light of that reality,” said James Haubrock, shareholder and chairman of employee benefit plan services, for regional public accounting firm Clark Schaefer Hackett.

“They have to balance their desire to manage costs, their need to attract and retain a high-quality labor force, and the requirement to comply with the (Affordable Care Act). Some employers will see eliminating coverage for spouses as a viable option to meet those competing needs,” Haubrock said.

The federal Affordable Care Act does not require employers to cover spouses or domestic partners, Haubrock said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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