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Earlier this month the WSJ triumphantly reported that insurers were jacking up health care premiums across the board, and that Obamacare was to blame.The story fit nicely into the paper’s anti-Obamacare stance, even though the article really made no sense. True, the law hasn’t done anything yet (and we’re sceptical that it will), but healthcare inflation is nothing new. It’s been happening year after year after year. What was supposed to change that this year?
Today the paper has another scare story, this time about McDonald’s dropping coverage for its employees. Apparently new regulations will make the company’s healthcare setup cost prohibitive.
But here’s the thing: the story is BS on multiple levels.
First of all, the health plans in question apply to 30K employees, and they’re known as mini-meds, which are really the opposite of health insurance.
Here’s WSJ explaining the deal:
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.
Insurance is supposed to protect you against large, unexpected costs. These plans do no such things. Get hit by a car, and these plans will maybe pay your ambulance bill to get to the hospital. At best, they work for covering ordinary expenses.
As policy expert Josh Barro explains on Twitter, they’re actually a way of ripping off the taxpayer, because after the $2,000 is spent (or $10,000) then it’s up to the public to foot the rest of the hospital bill.
There’s another problem with the WSJ story: the company has called it “completely false.”
It seems McDonald’s raised an issue with regulators — how these plans would work under the Obamacare regime — and is working on how best to handle it. The company is not planning on dropping the plans.
Here’s the thing: Obamacare might end up being horrible. We’re certainly extremely sceptical. But not everything bad that happens now — before the majority of the law gets put into place, even — can be pinned on it.
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