People like Elaine Linn of Folsom, Calif., say they're nearing the breaking point. Linn, a 32-year-old employee with Perry's public relations firm, decided to move her two children to her husband's school district plan after she realized that she would have to pay nearly $250 a month in additional costs under her company's new policy. She pays $70 a month for their coverage under the new arrangement.
However, Linn says the switch has been complicated by that fact that her husband's plan is more restrictive than her own. This summer, when she tried to refill a prescription for her year-old son, who has Down syndrome, she was told the medication wasn't on an approved list.
Although she finally got the prescription filled, it took five weeks to resolve the issue. "It was a nightmare," she says.
Some consumer advocates fear what will happen to those who can't simply switch coverage to a spouse's plan.
So far, the cutbacks in family benefits appear to be taking hold the most in industries with relatively low unemployment rates, such as engineering, and in smaller companies that have been absorbing the biggest health-premium increases -- as much as 40% a year -- because their smaller size means they lack the clout to negotiate lower rates.