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Excela Health dropping benefits for part-timers, spouses

| Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Excela Health will cut health care benefits for part-time employees, drop coverage for employees' spouses and require a higher co-pay for full-time workers next year, according to officials.

Starting Jan. 1, part-time workers no longer will be offered medical, dental or vision coverage. Coverage for spouses will be dropped Sept. 1.

Full-time employees will pay $63 more a year for coverage next year. For a family of four, the increase is $252 annually, according to figures released by Excela.

Excela spokeswoman Robin Jennings said the cuts are necessary because of requirements under the Obama administration's health care legislation.

The Affordable Care Act establishes a 30-hour threshold for employers to provide health coverage.

“Beyond the changes that are directly linked to the Affordable Care Act, Excela's benefits program is in line with other health care organizations and other industries,” Jennings said. “Jefferson Regional Medical Center does not offer part-time benefits, and many businesses are moving to employee-only coverage when a spouse's employer provides benefits. An employee's dependent children may be covered under either parent's medical plan.

“Excela Health is continually reviewing its total compensation package to remain competitive in the market for recruitment and retention while being focused on the cost-effectiveness of our offerings. That's why our employee wellness program is so important in the early detection of diseases or conditions that if left untreated could lead to high-cost claims in the future,” she said.

Last month, the health care system laid off 78 employees and decided to leave another 58 positions vacant. After the furloughs, Excela hired eight physicians and surgeons.

It paid nearly $11 million for a surgical practice in Hempfield and is building ambulatory care centers in Unity and Ligonier Borough. An additional facility in planned in Hempfield once the property is acquired.

Excela operates an ambulatory care center in North Huntingdon and hospitals in Greensburg, Latrobe and Mt. Pleasant.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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