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Business Costs & Regulation

Should Your Company Insure Your Spouse?

Is it fair for your employer to drop spousal health benefits? Plus, do you have any recourse when you lose a gift certificate?

The company I work for has great health-care benefits, much better than those of my wife's employer. That's why I've always paid a little extra to put her on my firm's coverage. But now my company (which self-insures for its employees' actual medical costs) has decided it will no longer cover spouses who can get health-care benefits at their own place of work. Is this fair?

Yes, it is. Your employer should be commended for providing excellent benefits to its employees and their spouses who don't have coverage. Companies aren't required to do so, and many don't. But apparently your firm has grown tired of subsidizing other companies, such as your wife's employer, that aren't so generous. This is perfectly understandable.

Replacing lost gift certificates

Soon after receiving a $120 gift certificate to a nice restaurant, I accidentally threw it out with the trash. It was made out to me personally and had a tracking number on it. When I asked the restaurant to cancel the lost certificate and issue me a replacement, they at first refused, saying it was just like lost cash. They finally relented when I showed them a copy of the purchase receipt and took my case to senior management. Now I'm wondering, Did I make a reasonable request?

Many establishments -- especially large national stores -- have a policy of not replacing lost gift certificates and cash cards, especially anonymous ones that anyone could present for redemption. But in this case, I'm with you. You had proof of purchase, and your name on the certificate prevented someone else from redeeming it. The restaurant should have gladly replaced it without your having to make a fuss about it. I'm surprised it didn't recognize the risk to its reputation by refusing such a reasonable request in the first place.

Have a money-and-ethics question you'd like answered in this column? Write to editor in chief Knight Kiplinger at

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