April 8, 2013

Health law holds costly edicts for some companies

Full time will be defined as 30 hours, and businesses with 50 such workers face new requirements or penalties.

By Nathan Burgess nburgess@pressherald.com
Staff writer

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click image to enlarge

Cheryl Morse, senior benefits and wellness manager at Idexx Laboratories in Westbrook, talks about the new health care law in one of the company’s collaborative work spaces.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

Large companies are perhaps the best-prepared to comply with the changes. Idexx Laboratories, the Westbrook-based manufacturer of diagnostic and other technical equipment for veterinary doctors, has already complied with the new standards for covering pre-existing conditions, for example, said Cheryl Morse, senior benefits and wellness manager for the 5,400-employee company.

"We're not going to be hugely impacted," she said, because most of Idexx's employees are already eligible for company insurance. However, because the law mandates that everyone buy insurance or join a work plan, several employees who haven't signed up before will now have to apply.

"That will affect our bottom line," she said.

L.L. Bean, which already offers health benefits to 5,000 full- and part-time employees, will also avoid penalties under the law, said spokeswoman Carolyn Beem.

"We already provide coverage to employees working an average of at least 20 hours a week, so there is no impact here," she said.

But for most Maine businesses, the law could come as a shock, said Allumbaugh. The majority of companies are just barely starting to understand what the law will mean to them, he said.

"I think a lot of employers are just flat-out going to get blindsided," he said.


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