Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?

McDonald's Corp. has notified federal regulators its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers isn't compatible with a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, raising speculation about the fate of those employees' health coverage.

Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn't loosen a requirement for "mini-med" plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans. The requirement concerns the percentage of premiums that must be spent on benefits.

While many restaurants don't offer health coverage, McDonald's provides mini-med plans for workers at 10,500 U.S. locations, most of them franchised. A single worker can pay $14 a week for a plan that caps annual benefits at $2,000, or about $32 a week to get coverage up to $10,000 a year.

Last week, a senior McDonald's official informed the Department of Health and Human Services that the restaurant chain's insurer won't meet a 2011 requirement to spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of its premium revenue on medical care, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But McDonald's issued a statement Wednesday denying that it planned to drop coverage for its employees and defending its benefit plans.

"We've had the opportunity to speak with regulatory agencies directly to better understand the implications of the law and to share our point of view," Steve Russell, a senior vice president with the company, said in the statement. "Moving forward, we will continue to have an open dialogue with legislators as well as regulators."

McDonald's and trade groups say the percentage is unrealistic for mini-med plans because of high administrative costs owing to frequent worker turnover, combined with relatively low spending on claims.

Is this the tip of the proverbial iceberg I wonder? What happens when more and more employers elect not to cover their employees? The answer of course is the government would have to cover them, which is great for an administration who believes in the nanny state concept, or the idea of big government. But, where do they get the money to pay for covering a majority of the public? If everyone is on the dole, who pays the taxes needed to support a system like this? Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged?

You'd think the current administration would recognize we're already on the brink of national bankruptcy and look to the failed systems of socialized medicine, both past and present, as an example of what NOT to do. But, no one ever claimed these people, currently in the White House, had clue one how this was all supposed to be feasible... except maybe themselves in their own inflated, egotistical dreams of a progressive, socialistic utopia.

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