Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Say hello to the 28-hour work week as companies start to gear up for Obamacare

    We warned you! We did! Don't say we didn't tell you!
     The Obamiacs assured us that all we had to do was require every employer who hired someone for 30 or more hours each week to buy them insurance and all of our problems would be solved. And of course, it couldn't be a low-cost policy. It had to be the most expensive, comprehensive insurance money can buy, with low deductibles, low co-pays, no lifetime limits, and free birth control. Welcome to the good life!
     Many public-spirited employers of lower-wage employees were already providing insurance for their full-time workers. They didn't need a new law. But the insurance they have been providing isn't good enough for the government, which under the Obamacare law requires them to spend substantially more so there will be lots of extra money to provide college girls at expensive private colleges with free birth control and other extras that many working people neither need nor want to pay for.
     And so, faced with skyrocketing health costs under Obamacare, employers are acting rationally. They are cutting lower-wage workers back to a 28-hour-per-week work schedule. Remember, the employer-mandate only applies to full-time workers, so as long as the workers are kept under 30 hours the employer has no obligation to provide insurance.
     The Orlando Sentinel reports, for example, that the Darden Corporation, which owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Longhorn restaurants, is testing a new 28-hour work week in anticipation of new insurance rules that go into effect in 2014. If successful the shortened workweek will likely go into effect at all restaurants on the rollout of Obamacare.
     This isn't an outlier. This is going to be the new normal of employment for low- and moderate-wage workers. Obamacare is just going to make it too expensive to keep these workers on full-time.
     And sad to say for these semi-displaced workers, but because of the individual mandate they are still going to be required to purchase insurance or face fines. So instead of getting employer-sponsored insurance they can afford they are going to be forced to purchase subsidized, luxury policies entirely on their own or pay a fine -- and they will have a lot less money to do it with.
     Obama gave his word of honor that people who liked their current health insurance could keep their current health insurance. But that doesn't apply to many low-wage workers, who are losing both their low-cost insurance plans and the hours of work that they need to survive. These people don't want free birth control or to be forced to pay for lots of extras, they want the affordable insurance they used to have and plenty of hours at work to help pay for it. Those days are apparently gone forever, thanks to Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et al.
     As a matter of public policy, Obamacare did just the opposite of what it should have done. Instead of outlawing bargain health plans, we should have concentrated on providing every American with limited health coverage. But the Democrats were too concerned with forcing the Catholic church to buy birth control for rich, unmarried college girls to think about the needs of actual working people.
     Obama would no doubt say that Change is hard, but he sure Hopes you have enough money to pay your bills once you are semi-unemployed. But at least those stuck without full-time work or health insurance will be able to rest easy knowing that any full-time job they get will come with insurance. Of course, they'll never again get a full-time job for as long as they live.

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