Employees at Black Meg 43 locations throughout the Killeen area are covered by health insurance well ahead of the extended 2015 deadline of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”
John Vasseur, the owner of Black Meg 43 with locations in Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Belton, knew well ahead of the deadline the employer mandate was scheduled to take effect in January and started taking bids from insurance providers for his 18 full-time employees and 47 other employees who are either part-time or have other health insurance coverage. He purchased health care that covered his full-time employees and their immediate family members effective Aug. 1.
Then the employer mandate was delayed until 2015.
Although he was no longer required to provide the insurance, at least until 2015, Vasseur called each employee to inform them their health insurance would not be lost.
“After not having health insurance for over three years, I know I am really blessed to have this job,” said Gail Reeves, general manager of Black Meg 43 in Copperas Cove.
Reeves said she previously became unemployed and uninsured at age 45 after leaving a corporate sales job to take care of her mother. Lack of insurance prevented her from getting necessary thyroid medication and from being treated for other illnesses, she said.
100 percent coverage
Black Meg 43 covers 100 percent of insurance costs for its full-time employees and their immediate family members once the employee has worked for the company for one year. Full-time employees who have worked less than a year may opt into the program for $25 per week.
“Providing insurance as a small business owner is very expensive and is definitely cutting into our profit margin,” Vasseur said. “But we don’t have stockholders or a big board of directors to answer to. We only answer to ourselves and this is the right thing to do for our employees.”
Vasseur said Black Meg 43’s profits are modest compared to his larger competitors and providing insurance to cover his employees and their families costs him thousands of dollars monthly.
With 65 employees, Vasseur could have taken advantage of a loophole that many small businesses are using to avoid providing insurance. Some businesses have cut employee hours to 27 or less, putting them on part-time status and therefore not eligible for insurance.
“It’s really about quality of life for our employees,” Vasseur said. “They work hard for us and we want to show our appreciation. We are fortunate to be successful and have a few stores. It is a matter of spreading the wealth.”