Voice of the Reader: Drought, humans change fire dynamics

Ryan Maye Handy

• Borriello Brothers Pizza: The Colorado Springs-based pizza chain, which employs 150 at nine locations in the Springs and Denver areas, first looked at breaking the chain into individual businesses to avoid the coverage requirement, but determined the move would make the operation too difficult to manage, said Chris Stein, the company’s business manager. The owners then decided to instead pay a penalty, but realized it could cost Borriello Brothers up to $500,000 a year, Stein said. The company is now looking for a plan to cover mostly management employees, since most of the rest of the company’s workers are less 26 years old and can be on their parents’ policies, he said. The chain may delay offering coverage until 2015, since the requirement has been postponed until then, he said.

• TAT Enterprises Inc. (operates Garden of the Gods Trading Post and four other businesses in Manitou Springs): The company may be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s requirements because all but 35 of its 145 employees are seasonal, said TAT President Tim Haas.The company may be forced to cut back many of its employees to part-time status if it is forced to comply with the health care law, he said. TAT offers employees health care coverage with a $7,500 annual deductible, but the company pays for all but $2,000 of that. However, Haas said, the company won’t be able to continue that type of plan under the Affordable Care Act. To offer a plan with a $2,000 annual deductible, monthly premiums would have to increase 40 percent.

• C&C Sand and Stone Co.: The company, which employs 47 at three Colorado Springs locations, has offered a choice of high- and low-deductible health plans to employees through a company that provides human resources and benefits administration services to C&C, said Bill Johannsen, C&C’s president.C&C has hired more part-time employees and limited their hours to avoid the requirement, even though Johannsen is not sure the requirement will apply to the company.“I have no heartburn about offering insurance, but I just want to make sure we are doing the best thing for our employees and the business,” Johannsen said.

• Midas Auto Experts of Colorado: Employs 85 people at 10 stores in the Colorado Springs, Denver and Pueblo areas and has offered health insurance coverage to employees for more than 20 years. Midas of Colorado President Jeff Genuario said one health insurance broker told him he could save money by paying a fine for not offering coverage and allow employees to buy their own coverage on the state’s health exchange. But Genuario said he wants to continue to offer coverage to employees. He said the Affordable Care Act has forced the company “to have a deeper relationship with our health insurance broker about where health care is going and helping us stay up-to-date and compliant.” The company is looking at changing its deductible levels for new employees and limiting the ability of their spouses to get coverage through Midas. “We could offer cut-rate coverage at high prices, but we went in the other direction and offered good coverage at an affordable price,” Genuario said.

• Braxton Technologies LLC: The defense contractor employs nearly 100 in the Springs. The health care law will force Braxton to end its two-tier approach to health insurance benefits. The company pays 90 percent of the health insurance premium for employees of the software-development part of its business, but only about 50 percent of the premium for employees of the services part of the company, said Braxton President Ken O’Neil. Employers will no longer be able to offer two different premiums for the same coverage to employees after Jan. 1, 2015, which will force Braxton to either cut its contribution to premiums for software developers, or increase its contribution to employees of its services operations, he said. No decision has been made. Braxton also plans to launch a corporate wellness program for employees in January.

Reporters Wayne Heilman, Ned Hunter and Rich Laden contributed to this story.