City changes benefits for some employees' spouses

The city of Providence sent aletter stating it will not provide primary coverage forsome employees' spouses.

Instead, the city wants eligiblespouses to get their health insurance from their own employer.

The city, however, said it will provide for secondarycoverage only.

About 300 non-union employees received a letter dated Nov. 5 outliningthe changes, including Margaret Wingate, the city's manager of employeebenefits.

"My husband was aware and I explained to him. His employeris in Connecticut, and they weren't surprised by the request. I guess becauseit's fairly common," she said.

Shifting eligible spouses to their own employer's insurancewill save Providence an estimated $2 million a year.

"Delaware's been doing it for close to two decades.Connecticut does it and there's not harm to employees of the city," said DavidOrtiz, the city's director of communications.

Despite the national healthcare conversation, Wingate says the change has nothing to do with theAffordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.

"For those that don't work or don't have access to coverage,we will keep them on their plan. We're not trying to drop coverage for anyonehere," Ortiz said.