Regis, Carlson Get Waivers from Health Care Law

The two Minnesota companies are among 111 applicants that have received one-year waivers on a federal health reform provision that requires employers to raise annual health coverage minimums.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a list of 111 companies that have been approved for a waiver from a portion of recent federal health reform law.

Among the list of approved applicants is Minnetonka-based Carlson Restaurants and Minneapolis-based Regis Corporation, which will each receive a one-year waiver from the new provision.

Under new health reform law, employers face minimums on the essential health benefits they must offer annually. The provision says limits on coverage can be no lower than $750,000 for plans that began in September-and those minimums increase to $1.25 million for plans beginning on or after September 23, 2011. It then jumps to $2 million the following year. Employers will not be able to set any annual limits on most types of health plans beginning in 2014.

Some employers, however, offer only limited benefits-often called “mini-med plans”-that have annual limits well below the new restrictions. They often offer lower-cost coverage to part-time workers, seasonal workers, and volunteers who otherwise might not be able to afford coverage.

HHS officials are currently reviewing applications on a case-by-case basis to determine which employers will be granted waivers. The waivers are meant to delay the changes in cases when compliance with the regulations “would result in a significant decrease in access to benefits” or “would significantly increase premiums,” according to the HHS.

The full list of employers that have received waivers as of November 1 is available here.

Regis is among Minnesota's 25-largest public companies based on its revenue, which totaled $2.4 billion it its most recent fiscal year.

Carlson Restaurants, part of privately held Carlson, operates multiple restaurant brands, including T.G.I. Friday's. Carlson-which operates in more than 150 countries and employs roughly 150,000 people-is Minnesota's third-largest private company based on its revenue, which totaled an estimated $3.9 billion in 2009.