Most wineries not prepared for new health care law

Wineries in the North Bay on average saw a 5 percent cost increase on employer-sponsored health insurance last year, in tune with national averages and down from previous years, but a majority don't have specific plans to deal with the Affordable Care Act, according to a survey by Woodruff Sawyer & Company.

The annual Wine Industry Health and Welfare Benchmarking Survey, part of a broader Bay Area survey on employee benefit trends, found that 73 percent of wineries who offer health benefits have not completed a formal analysis on how the Affordable Care Act would impact costs, while 27 percent said they had.

Wineries surveyed range in size, averaging between 75 and 100 employees and case counts of between 50,000 and 100,000.

While only a handful have done actual analysis on health care reform, wineries were overall in  agreement that the ACA would increase their costs: about 40 percent said it would increase costs by more than 3 percent, while 13 percent said it was going to increase costs by more than 10 percent.

[caption id="attachment_76326" align="alignleft" width="160"] Chris Reiter[/caption]

"A fairly high percentage know or believe it's going to impact their costs negatively," said Chris Reiter, vice president of Woodruff's employee benefits practice in Novato.

Wineries do tend to have generous plan designs, with the average plan being a PPO with a $350 deductible, $25 copay and 80 percent of coverage paid for by employers.

"That's the most prevalent plan they're offering to their employees," Mr. Reiter said.

Overall, 39 percent of wineries are offering PPO plans, while 31 percent are offering HMO plans. Another 30 percent are offering a variety of so-called consumer-driven plans, typically in the form of health savings accounts or health reimbursement accounts.

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