During his marathon Senate floor speech opposing President Barack Obama’s health care law, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, cited an example of an employer cutting back on health coverage as a result of the law.
Cruz said: "Just a few weeks ago, UPS sent a letter to some 15,000 employees saying, ‘We are dropping spousal health insurance because of Obamacare.’ That is 15,000 UPS employees who had insurance for their husbands and wives, and suddenly those husbands and wives are left without health insurance and being told, ‘Go on an exchange with no employer subsidy.’ "
We thought we’d check exactly what UPS, the major package carrier, did with its health insurance coverage.
The full memo announcing the decision can be found here. Here are the key elements:
• If a UPS employee is on the company’s plan and their spouse is employed at a different company that offers health insurance, the spouse will no longer be eligible for the UPS plan and must purchase insurance from their own employer.
• If a UPS employee is on the company’s plan and their spouse is not employed by a company that offers health insurance (or isn’t employed at all, or is on a government plan such as Medicare), then the spouse will remain on the UPS plan.
• The company estimates that of the 77,000 UPS employees who are enrolled in UPS health insurance, about 33,000 currently have spouses enrolled in the plan. Of those, the company estimates that 15,000 current UPS spousal enrollees may have to take their employer’s coverage -- roughly one in five of all enrollees.
• Spouses whose employers offer medical insurance but do not offer prescription drug coverage or behavioral health benefits will not be allowed to remain on the UPS plan.
• After the change, if a spouse shifts from being unemployed (and thus eligible for the UPS plan) to a job with insurance coverage, they must drop the UPS coverage and take their new employer’s coverage.
• Children may remain on the UPS plan. If both parents have plans from different companies, the parents can choose which plan will cover their children. Stepchildren who are children of a spouse being removed from the UPS plan may remain on the UPS plan.
• The UPS memo specifically cited Obamacare as a factor in its decision: "Limiting plan eligibility is one way to manage ongoing health care costs. … This change is consistent with the way many large employers are responding to the costs associated with the health care reform legislation."
So UPS did change its policy on insuring spouses of employees, a change that will affect an estimated 15,000 people. But Cruz is wrong that the UPS spouses would be "without health insurance" and would have to "go on an exchange with no employer subsidy."
In reality, the only spouses that would be removed from the UPS plan would be those that already had an option of purchasing employer coverage. They wouldn’t be without health insurance. They wouldn’t have to go on an Obamacare exchange. And their employer would be paying part of their premiums.
Cruz said that by dropping spousal health insurance for 15,000 employees, UPS left employees’ spouses "without health insurance" and told them to, "go on an exchange with no employer subsidy."
But Cruz ignores that the only spouses being kicked off the UPS plan would be the ones who already had access to an employer-sponsored plan in their own job. This means they wouldn’t be "without health insurance" and wouldn’t have to find coverage on an Obamacare marketplace. We rate the claim False.
Ted Cruz, Senate floor speech, Sept. 24, 2013
UPS, memo on health care changes, accessed Sept. 26, 2013
FactCheck.org, "FactChecking ‘Pernicious’ Obamacare Claims," Sept. 25, 2013
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