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Wegmans Changes Eligibility Requirements For Health Care Plan For Part-Time Employees

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Rochester: Wegmans Changes Eligibility Requirements For Health Care Plan For Part-Time Employees
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Wegmans is changing the way it offers health care benefits for part-time employees. Those changes will affect thousands and thousands of workers.

Thousands of the employees who work for Wegmans work there part time. An expert tells YNN the changes ahead for their health care benefits may help some, but significantly hurt others.

The supermarket giant offered health care benefits for employees who worked 20 hours or more a week. Now, some will see those benefits go away.

Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale says the company is changing the eligibility requirements for part-timers. Current part time workers will see those changes go into effect in 2015.

She went on to say, "Even though the new health care law is requiring some changes, we are not going to do anything that will hurt our employees."

But benefits broker and consultant Erick Bond says some employees may be hurt. He explained that under the Affordable Care Act, employees who lose their benefits will have the option of going to the health care exchange to buy individual coverage. Bond said this could help employees who are making less money but hurt those making more.

"Now that individual coverage is probably 30 percent higher than the group coverage that was offered, it's going to drive costs up, but the flip side of that is the federal government is giving them the tax credit to help pay for that, so lower paid employees will come out ahead. Higher paid employees will lose significantly," said Bond.

Bond said what Wegmans is doing is not unusual but the norm in today's business world. The Affordable Care Act will require employers with 50 or more employees to offer coverage to those who work 30 hours a week or face serious penalties.

Bond says because of that, many companies have already been cutting employees' hours. He says we'll be hearing more and more about these kinds of changes as the law continues to be implemented.

"Most employers will continue to offer coverage as they have in the past. They're going to see significant rate increases because of the changes health care reform has instigated. The fact that they call it the Affordable Heath Care Act is a bit of joke because the act doesn't impact affordability at all. They're just trying to make coverage available to people."

Wegmans said in a statement that it has met one-on-one with all impacted employees to help them through the process.

Rochester Business Alliance Reacts

Rochester Business Alliance head Sandy Parker says parts of the Affordable Care Act still need to be defined to help employers deal with issues of temp employees and the definition of a "full time employee."

"It's an example of lawmakers who put a law in place without carefully thinking out what the issues that employees are going to have to face," Parker said.

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