Can a union dictate who is covered under a familyhealth insurance plan?

UPDATED: Jan 7, 2011

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UPDATED: Jan 7, 2011Fact Checked

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Can a union dictate who is covered under a familyhealth insurance plan?

I have my insurance coverage through a local union. My wife and son are covered under my plan. My union sent me a letter saying that if my wife was offered coverage at her job that she would have to take it. I pay almost $1000 a month for my family coverage and I am not sure what hers will cost. I don’t understand why if I pay that much for a family plan she has to get her own, when she is still covered under my plan. She will end up paying for nothing. Is this legal? Can I tell the union she doesn’t have to do this.

Asked on January 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, this is in fact legal. Remember, health insurance--despite the recent health care bill--is still not something that companies or are mandated to provide (they can opt to pay a penalty, which penalty is less than the cost of the insurance)--and unions are not obligated at all to provide it. That means that the insurance offered may have any requirements or stipulations that do not otherwise contravene the law, such as discriminating against pre-existing conditions. A common--and legal--requirement is that if a family member has insurance available through his or her own employment, he or she must take that insurance and cannot be on the family plan of our spouse. It's unfair, but it is legal.

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