In their ongoing bid to cut the cost of benefits, a growing number of employers are levying a surcharge on the spouses of employees who sign up for health care coverage if they are eligible for them in their own workplace.

A Towers Watson survey this year of more than 600 companies found that 20 percent charge an average of $100 a month for spouses in that situation to be added to health care benefits. A Mercer study in 2012 found a smaller cohort of companies with more than 500 employees (18 percent) reported similar figures.

The change in spousal benefits is part of a broader effort by employers to look for ways to cut the cost of benefits. The average cost of providing health care for a family was $16,351 this year, a 4 percent rise from 2012, according to a survey by Kaiser Health. Employees, on average, paid $4,565 of that total.

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