Businesses looking at potential costs of new healthcare tax - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Businesses looking at potential costs of new healthcare tax

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JENNINGS, LA (KPLC) -

Like many other businesses, Leevac Shipyards LLC in Jennings says they practice corporate responsibility, providing a comprehensive insurance plan to each of their roughly 500 employees, even self-managing a company-wide wellness program.

"When we look at the wellness of our employees, it helps improve our healthcare cost," said Charlie Butler, Human Resource Manager for Leevac.

It's that sense of responsibility, they say, that will hurt them once the health insurance tax, a part of the affordable care act, goes into effect in January of 2014.

"I think in a case like Leevac and other companies that do the right thing, I think it's unnecessary," said Chris Vaccari, President and CEO of the company. 

The health insurance tax is a new sales tax on health insurance that will increase the cost of health care coverage for providers. For the companies, like Leevac who already pay for and provide health insurance, the tax will cost them more; an idea they say may mean higher premiums for their employees and a tightening of their overall budget.

"It's going to impact what kind of pay increases we get which is going to impact the taxes that are paid into the state," Butler said.

On the other side of the health insurance tax, are the companies who don't provide insurance to their employees. If they continue to opt out, under the affordable care act, they'll be penalized. While specifics of exactly how much those financial penalties will be are still unclear, business executives like those at Leevac say they know it will be significantly less than what they're paying.

"What we're hearing is that cost may be somewhere around $2,500 per employee. Well the health insurance coverage that we're already providing our employees is significantly higher than that," said Vaccari.

Leevac, working with the National Federation of Independent Business and federal legislators hope to get that conundrum sorted out before the act becomes law next year.

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