Sunday, October 3, 2010

Obamacare - You want fries with that?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal and the followup editorial concerning McDonald's decision to consider ending health care coverage for its work force has sparked controversy.

But it is a very compelling message.

Obamacare, or more correctly, the new federal health legislation passed in the spring by the Democratic Congress, promised to "keep your current health coverage intact."

But as the law goes into effect, it is confirming what we pundits have been screaming from the beginning: it will impact everyone in America.

Read: everyone. From the uninsured (which hopefully will see expanded coverage but still be challenged with with limited access) to tax payers to small business and yes, to physicians, everyone will see an impact.

And it will vary from the potential double digit increases on private indemnity insurance for those 25 year old new entrepreneurs to the seemingly bizarre requirement that small business owners will now have to issue thousands of additional 1099 forms to virtually every vendor they purchase products or services from.

So for McDonald's to be considering eliminating health care coverage may not come as a surprise. Now before my faithful readers start sending me emails about "how these were minimum benefit plans" and "these workers deserve better care," let me preempt you.

McDonald's offers ground level employment for thousands of young people -- and many part time workers. So for them to be offering any health care benefits to begin with was extraordinary.

And now to have them being forced to either enrich the plan with added benefits and cost, or abandon their current entry level health benefit structure is an example of how they too will be impacted by the legislation.

But for all the bad that has been said about the federal health regulations, the most chilling concern that I have is that at the end of the day despite the super-sized money and new statues that have been created -- we may not see an improvement in the access and quality of care.

There is no value meal here.

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