Obamacare fallout: Part-time employees losing their health insurance

With Obamacare now about 10 months from taking effect, get used to more stories like this one from the Orlando Sentinel:

Universal Orlando plans to stop offering medical insurance to part-time employees beginning next year, a move the resort says has been forced by the federal government’s health-care overhaul.

The giant theme-park resort, which generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, began informing employees this month that it will offer health-insurance to part-timers “only until December 31, 2013.”

The reason: Universal currently offers part-time workers a limited insurance plan that has low premiums but also caps the payout of benefits. For instance, Universal’s plan costs about $18 a week for employee-only coverage but covers only a maximum of $5,000 a year toward hospital stays. There are similar caps for other services.

Those types of insurance plans — sometimes referred to as “mini-med” plans — will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act. Beginning in 2014, the law will prohibit insurance plans that impose annual monetary limits on essential medical care such, as hospitalization, or on overall spending.

The theory behind Obamacare comes down to this: Liberals believe it is better for you to pay a fine — er, tax — for not having the wonderful health insurance you can’t afford than to continue having the less-wonderful but affordable insurance you already have.

And if you don’t work at the Universal Studios theme park and still buy the line that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” you might want to read what Colleen Medill, who teaches employee benefits law at the University of Nebraska, told Glenn Reynolds for his Instapundit blog:

I am deeply into studying the impact of Obamacare on employers, and I have been communicating with highly sophisticated ERISA lawyers who are advising employers, from Fortune 50 companies to small firms under 50 employees, on whether to keep or drop or modify their employer group health plans.

It has become very clear to everyone involved who is analytical and not ideological that the rational strategy, for both large and small firms, is to cease providing health care insurance to employees.

No company wants to admit that they are considering eliminating health insurance as an option, or be the first one to drop their health insurance plan, but once a competitor does so, the preference cascade will begin. The clear sentiment is “We will not be the first one to drop our health insurance plan, but we would be a close second.”

The coming preference cascade for employer group health plans is what the Democrats fear the most, because Obamacare was sold to the masses as “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.”

The people who really know the law, and who have been following the avalanche of regulations, have already figured this out. It will take a while for this specialized knowledge to seep downward, because right now only $800+ an hour ERISA attorneys and the most sophisticated HR people understand how Obamacare really works.

Here’s a word to the wise: When a law benefits lawyers who charge $800-plus per hour and leads to fewer benefits for part-time employees, it is not going to be the boon to lower-income people that its advocates claimed it would be.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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361 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

February 20th, 2013
11:22 am

I have my doubts if you care, but you may.

Uncle Jed

February 20th, 2013
11:24 am

Soon enough, the lemmings will realize they have been selected for slaughter. The Democrat Party owns this and history informs that they have never really cared about those they depend of for office sustaining votes.

Uncle Jed

February 20th, 2013
11:26 am

Example: Look what they have done to the family structure in the “black” community.

Dearie

February 20th, 2013
11:28 am

I remember one of your earlier columns explaining the “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” fallacy. I couldn’t get my liberal friends to understand that the wording in the Universal Healthcare Bill made this statement false ~ I’m afraid it will take it crashing down on their heads before they believe it was all a charade.

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
11:31 am

Dearie: Yes, some of us saw this coming a long time ago.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

February 20th, 2013
11:32 am

Wait until they see what the government has to replace it with, hahahahaha, morons.

I hope libs like long lines with snarling government flunkies at the end of them.

Aynie Sue

February 20th, 2013
11:33 am

ObamaCare fallout!

Everybody who wants health care insurance can get it, and health care insurers have to compete for customers.

All else is timing and technicality!

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 20th, 2013
11:35 am

covers only a maximum of $5,000 a year toward hospital stays.

What is that, like 20 minutes?

Marilyn Mueller

February 20th, 2013
11:35 am

Welcome to Schmuckdom Mr. Wingfield and most of your followers! Just ask the part timers at Walmart if they have health insurance! You followers of Fox News really don’t know what you don’t know. Perhaps you should try reading or listening to other programs and newspapers.

Dearie

February 20th, 2013
11:36 am

Kyle’s earlier column ~ http://blogs.ajc.com/kyle-wingfield/2009/07/22/choice-is-a-casualty-of-obamacare/

Kyle read the bill and was knowledgeable before the “… $800+ an hour ERISA attorneys and the most sophisticated HR people understand how Obamacare really works.”

Good columns!!!

Looks like Kyle needs to be added to this sentence

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 20th, 2013
11:37 am

What we have here is a case of “change” and we know the Cons will scream bloody murder because it means change. You will adapt or you will die. Simple.

Remember, what we liberals truly want is medicare for all. This will push us toward that.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

February 20th, 2013
11:38 am

So, the middle class is getting hammered with tax hikes, loss of services and rampant inflation while the libs cheer on the Wall Street capitalists. The gap between the rich and the poor widens, and the dummycrats couldn’t be more happy.

Centrist

February 20th, 2013
11:40 am

We saw corporations phase out pension plans in favor of employee’s paying for their own. They even filed bankruptcy in order to wipe out already earned pensions.

They don’t have to phase out health care insurance or file bankruptcy – they can, and will simply drop it. The tidal wave is coming, and the government welcomes it in order to take over health care insurance as a whole new bureaucracy.

MarkV

February 20th, 2013
11:42 am

Whether Kyle’s dire predictions will come true or not remains to be seen, but if they do, it will only bring closer a better system than ObamaCare: public option or a “Medicare for all,” because people will not go back to caps, refusal of insurance for pre-existing conditions and other “benefits” of the system before ObamaCare.

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
11:49 am

Finn: Yes, PT workers losing benefits certainly is an instance of Change. The question is why y’all keep believing in it. Must be the triumph of Hope over experience.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

February 20th, 2013
11:53 am

…a move the resort says has been forced by the federal government’s health-care overhaul.

“[F]orced”?

Universal Orlando made a choice.

Those choices have consequences

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

February 20th, 2013
11:54 am

With Obamacare now about 10 months from taking effect,

*Obamacare has already taken effect.

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

February 20th, 2013
11:55 am

More Chicken Little sky is falling stuff.

TBone

February 20th, 2013
11:56 am

This is not an unintended consequence of that lousy legislation. My family’s health insurance has gone way up and my levels of coverage have gone way down. This too will pass and we will all be placed in exchanges while the ruling elites will have the prime care. Stay healthy my friends.

curious

February 20th, 2013
11:56 am

Good news for businesses.

Think of all the money formerly going to employee health insurance that will now go to the bottom line.

Heck, maybe some companies will use some of their increased profits to improve employee wages, then the employee can exercise personal responsibility and get their own insurance.

JDW

February 20th, 2013
11:56 am

@Kyle…”Liberals believe it is better for you to pay a fine — er, tax — for not having the wonderful health insurance you can’t afford than to continue having the less-wonderful but affordable insurance you already have.”

O HORSE HOOEY…you might as well be uninsured with that “plan” What the law provides is the ability to get real insurance at subsidized rates if you can’t afford it. My guess is most of those affected are eligible…unless of course the Republican Governor of the state chooses to leave them out in the cold by not doing his/her duty.

getalife

February 20th, 2013
11:57 am

I hope ObamaCare fails and deal opting out will help make that happen.

We should have CanadaCare by now and slow to change on this issue.

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

February 20th, 2013
11:58 am

Liberals believe it is better for you to pay a fine — er, tax — for not having the wonderful health insurance you can’t afford than to continue having the less-wonderful but affordable insurance you already have.

Liberals also believe we should not be the only developed nation on Earth without Universal Healthcare.

They also believe and can readily see that the countries with Universal Healthcare spend less than we do on it….and get better results.

Liberals also believe that working Americans who pay for thier insurance should not have to pay the bill for those who do not. This is why an Asprin costs 40 dollars ina a Hospital.

Liberals also believe that Trauma Centers and emergency rooms should be used for just that. Not to treat those without insurance ( Reagan ) for the flu.

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
11:59 am

Kamchak: It’s not much of a choice when the status quo is not a legal option.

getalife

February 20th, 2013
11:59 am

Most part time jobs do not get health care and full time jobs are losing it before ObamaCare.

CanadaCare is coming eventually so we are falling behind .

Del

February 20th, 2013
12:00 pm

ACA is a Trojan horse to push the country into socialized medicine. The left just loves the European socialized model and its Canadian cousin model even though it hasn’t worked particularly well.

JDW

February 20th, 2013
12:01 pm

O’ and Kyle…it is LESS expensive for a company to drop employee health care now than under the ACA fully implmented. Now they can do it for free. In the future they will be charged a tax/penalty.

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
12:01 pm

curious @ 11:56: “Think of all the money formerly going to employee health insurance that will now go to the bottom line.”

From the story I linked:

“Universal said it would not save any money by dropping the part-time insurance plans. The resort said it currently does not spend anything itself on plan — it only negotiates a group rate through Florida Hospital and then helps facilitate employee enrollment.”

Just Saying..

February 20th, 2013
12:03 pm

Whatever we do, let’s never amend, modify, or improve this legislation.
Cause that would be in bad faith…

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

February 20th, 2013
12:03 pm

Kamchak: It’s not much of a choice when the status quo is not a legal option.

They could’ve chosen to insure them under a plan that was a legal option.

Instead, they chose not to insure them at all.

A “giant theme-park resort, which generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue” cannot find a way to insure the health of it’s employees?

There’s your sign.

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
12:03 pm

“you might as well be uninsured with that “plan”.”

Easy for you to say, JDW, but 500 employees at the park thought otherwise.

war eagle

February 20th, 2013
12:05 pm

So the people that are forced on to Medicare/medicaid- who pays for them? Tax payers! And what about Dental and vision? The insurance companies don’t offer good low cost plans for most services needed like crowns, root canals, bridges, dentures,etc.I think what they are trying to do is to stop illegals from clogging up the emergency room when little illegal pedro has an ear ache. What they should do is deport these illegals just like their home land would do. BTW, in Mexico or in Islamic countries, you either get shot or go to jail if you enter the country illegally. But these environmentalist wacko liberals greet illegals with benefits, citizenship and membership into the Democrat party. It’s like they won the prize pack on the Price is Right!

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
12:06 pm

Kamchak: $1B in revenue tells you nothing about whether the resort can afford to provide more insurance. Do you know why?

getalife

February 20th, 2013
12:06 pm

You cons should love it because it was written by a VP of a health care insurance company and most of it is corporate welfare.

del is right.

If it fails we join the rest of the civilized countries to get CanadaCare.

Are you tired of losing to Canada and falling behind?

I am.

getalife

February 20th, 2013
12:11 pm

For costs of the failed occupation in Iraq, we could have CanadaCare for all the people and no longer could afford playing world police.

JDW

February 20th, 2013
12:11 pm

“Universal said it would not save any money by dropping the part-time insurance plans. The resort said it currently does not spend anything itself on plan — it only negotiates a group rate through Florida Hospital and then helps facilitate employee enrollment.”

That doesn’t give you a clue as the value of said “plan”…could a baseball bat in the head be more subtle?

Del

February 20th, 2013
12:11 pm

If it fails we join the rest of the civilized countries to get CanadaCare.

getalife, than we can all rejoice in waiting over six months to be scheduled for a CT scan or longer thus rendering a potential curative surgical procedure no longer potentially curative.

JDW

February 20th, 2013
12:12 pm

@Kyle…”Easy for you to say, JDW, but 500 employees at the park thought otherwise.”

That is because they had either no alternative or didn’t understand. Those plans are a SCAM and should be outlawed.

curious

February 20th, 2013
12:12 pm

Kyle, If they don’t spend any money but negoiate a group rate, it sounds like they’re spending money to me.

I doubt Florida Hospital is giving anything away.

getalife

February 20th, 2013
12:14 pm

del,

There is no perfect plan or government.

We are falling way behind in a global market.

Are you sick of losing to Canada?

Jefferson

February 20th, 2013
12:14 pm

So what if the AJC drops you to part time, you will grab your boot straps and move on I’d reckon.

Actions have reactions.

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
12:14 pm

curious @ 12:12: Well done, two non sequiturs in two sentences.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

February 20th, 2013
12:14 pm

$1B in revenue tells you nothing about whether the resort can afford to provide more insurance. Do you know why?

$1B in revenue let’s them buy what they want to buy. It let’s them pay executive salaries and golden parachutes that it wants to pay.

But curiously, they can’t afford to keep people of the state of Florida well?

If for no other reason than to protect their workforce which is vital to that revenue stream, why can’t corporate America understand that it is in their best interest to keep people healthy?

Do these part-timers not interact personally with the full timers? Is there not a chance of spreading airborne and other infectious diseases among all the employees of Universal Orlando? Isn’t it also in their best interest to make sure tourists are healthy?

Del

February 20th, 2013
12:16 pm

Any thoughts on Bookmans opinion that by Deal’s decision to opt out of the ACA exchanges he’ll be denying health care insurance to 600,000.

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
12:17 pm

JDW: “Those plans are a SCAM and should be outlawed.”

You got your wish. But the employees may not see it that way.

And there’s another fine bit of fine liberalism in that comment: “That is because they had either no alternative or didn’t understand.” You liberals are always so condescending to the folks on whose side you claim to be.

Cutty

February 20th, 2013
12:17 pm

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Same old sour grapes from Wingfield.

He had ‘gut feelings’ about Newt and Mitt. His take on public policy his about as correct as his gut feelings. Corporations only care about the bottom line, period. 5 stacks won’t cover much of a hospital stay anyone. Those employees will be getting better healthcare. Republicans love personal responsibility until they don’t. Obamacare was thought of by republicans.

Keep doing what you’re doing, Cons.

Centrist

February 20th, 2013
12:18 pm

Years ago, corporations offered non taxable perks like healthcare premiums instead of wages – to AVOID having to pay federal and state income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes first.

That is going to go away. This is just PART of the hidden middle class tax increase.

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
12:19 pm

“$1B in revenue let’s them buy what they want to buy.”

Try again.

JDW

February 20th, 2013
12:19 pm

Hey Kyle, you left out the part about WHOM the workers are upset with….from your link….

“Still, Universal’s announcement has angered some employees, who say the resort can afford to provide more-comprehensive health insurance for its part-time workers. Universal Orlando’s immediate parent company, Universal Parks & Resorts, generated approximately $950 million in operating cash flow last year, up 10 percent from a year ago.”

BTW a decent low end heath plan can be had for $250 per person per month…that is an annual cost of about $1.5 million for the affected workers leaving them “only” $948.5 million in operating cash flow….

Kyle Wingfield

February 20th, 2013
12:20 pm