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Firms trim health insurance costs with dependent audits

Denver Post, August 12, 2010

A new kind of audit is becoming standard procedure in many workplaces. Looking for ways to cut costs, employers are requiring workers to produce marriage licenses, birth certificates, student IDs and partial tax returns to prove their listed dependents are eligible for health-insurance coverage. Such "dependent audits" are on the rise in the private and public sectors. A survey released by human-resources firm Towers Watson in March found that 69% of large employers planned to audit their plans this year, up from 55% in 2008. The audits uncover children who are too old for coverage or aren't students as claimed, ex-spouses who are not eligible for coverage and non-family members. Employers typically don't delve too deeply into whether the oversight was intentional; most are satisfied to resolve the issue and move on.