Some South Shore casinos drop health insurance, citing Affordable Care Act

Griffin Rogers

MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa will eliminate medical coverage for most of its employees next month as the company attempts to divert higher costs brought on by the Affordable Care Act.

According to a memo sent to all MontBleu team members on Nov. 15, the resort has had to re-evaluate its 2014 health care program as a result of new requirements under the ACA — or Obamacare.

“In doing so, it became clear to us that the modifications in the medical plan that are mandated by the ACA will drive up the cost for both you and the company,” the memo stated.

MontBleu was reached by phone Thursday, but declined to comment on this story.

Under the ACA, health insurance will be mandatory for most Americans next year. Not signing up for coverage through a health care exchange could result in penalties that increase with time.

Individuals who already have health insurance or are provided coverage through work are not required to take additional action.

According to the MontBleu memo, most of its employees “would be better served economically” if the company canceled medical coverage and allowed workers to purchase next year’s health care plans independently through a health insurance exchange.

The resort will also help staff with the transition, the letter stated.

“No doubt you’ve heard the implementation of the health insurance exchanges has been complex and not as smooth as the government had expected,” according to the memo. “With that in mind, we are available to assist you with transitioning to the health insurance exchange.”

The termination of major medical and prescription drug plans will go into effect on Dec. 31. However, MontBleu will continue to offer vision and dental coverage to eligible team members, according to the memo.

Additionally, Harrah’s and Harveys will not be offering health benefits to part-time employees next year, said John Packer, director of entertainment and public relations. The company made the decision after reviewing the Affordable Care Act earlier this year.

“It made it clear that what we were offering to part-time employees,” he said, “they would be able to find (through) a better, less expensive program by going to the exchanges.”

Packer said he didn’t know the exact number of part-time employees that will be affected by the change, but that it was a small percentage.

On the other hand, full-time employees — which make up the majority of Harrah’s and Harveys employees — will still be able to receive health benefits in 2014, Packer said.

“Caesars Entertainment came to the conclusion that we would continue our plan,” he said, “and it was the right thing to do for our (full-time) employees.”

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