Star Tek gets waiver from health care law

Star Tek, which operates a call center in Grand Junction, is one of 111 companies that received waivers this month from the requirements of the new health care law.

Star Tek, which is headquartered in Denver, joins such companies as McDonald’s, several unions and health insurers, which were given waivers from the requirements of the new law by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Star Tek, which has more than 1,400 employees in the United States and abroad, didn’t respond Monday to requests for comment about the waiver.

Health and Human Services explained the waivers saying they were granted on a case-by-case basis by department officials who considered a series of factors, “including whether or not a premium increase is large or if a significant number of enrollees would lose access to their current plan because the coverage would not be offered in the absence of a waiver.”

The waivers, which last for a year and can then be renewed, let workers keep their current coverage until new options are available, the department said.

Other companies and organizations that received waivers included the Darden Corp., which owns the Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurant chains, the medical care insurers Aetna and CIGNA, as well as small organizations such as The Gallegos Corp., a Colorado-based stonework and masonry subcontractor headquartered in Wolcott.

The waiver allows Gallegos to continue offering a lower-cost plan to its employees who can’t afford its premium plan.

“We have almost 100 lives covered” under the more affordable plan, human resources manager Jennifer Law said. “They don’t want to lose that coverage and we don’t want them to lose that coverage.”

Gallegos’ premium coverage would be out of reach for many of its lesser-earning employees, such as laborers and accounting-office clerks, Law said.

The company hopes that when the insurance exchanges contemplated by the new law become active, those employees will have more choices, Law said.

Federal officials moved quickly on Gallegos’ application for a waiver, Law said. After the company applied via e-mail Sept. 29, federal officials made two requests for more information and then approved the waiver in a month, on Oct. 29, Law said.

Aetna, with 209,000 employees, received its waiver on Sept. 24, eight days after the company applied, according to a document released by the department.

CIGNA received its waiver on the same day that it applied, Sept. 30, according to the department.


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