Thursday, September 30th, 2010

McDonald's Denies, Confirms It'll Drop Health Insurance for 30,000 Workers

Fast food may not be heroin (oy!) but working in fast food sure will screw you up if you ever require basic medical treatment. Now McDonald's says it "won't" drop its meager health insurance for 30,000 hourly workers but it also then said that probably "we're going to have to look for alternatives."

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jfruh (#713)

I'm not going to argue that this move in particular is aweseome, but, well, wasn't one of the things the health care reform was supposed to do was make it easier/cheaper to buy health insurance as individuals? It would of course be good for companies to fucking wait until 2014 when the legendary "health care exchanges" (from which individuals will supposedly be able to buy health insurance at group rates) are up and running, and when all the bullshit that makes the individual insurance market (denials for pre-existing conditions, lifetime benefit caps) have been outlawed. But still, isn't ultimately severing the iron-clad relationship between your health insurance and your employer a good thing?

The problem of course is that health care reform was sold as "everything you like (or are comfortable with) about the system as it exists now will stay the same, but the stuff you don't like will go away." Companies are basically being told that they will have to either offer health insurance to their employees or pay a per-employee tax that will help subsidize government support for people at the low end of the income scale (generously defined — $90K a year, if you have four kids!) who need to buy insurance as individuals. It was inevitable that companies like McDonald's — which, let's face it, are probably offering shitty insurance and not subsidizing premiums much, if it all — were going to do the math and see that it made more sense to end their programs and just pay the per-employee tax. If all goes well (and I realize that it might not, both because of bureaucratic fuckups and because of potential 2010/2012 election results), by 2014 people working at McDonald's or Wal-Mart will be able to get better insurance for cheaper than they would through their stingy employer.

I know it's easy for me, as someone who feels relatively secure about where his insurance is coming from between now and January 1, 2014, to take the long view on this. But I don't think McDonald's ultimately ceasing to offer insurance is that terrible, because the whole point of the health care reform was to create alternatives to employer-subsidized health insurance.

nadie (#807)


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