A request from McDonald's for an exemption from new federal regulations regarding healthcare plans led to a Wall Street Journal report that the chain will drop 30,000 of their employees from a currently offered health plan. McDonald's is now denying the report, but they're not denying that they asked for the waiver. If they don't get it, it won't be a surprise if they do drop those employees after all.
This sort of case makes understandable the perceived fear that companies who offer plans might be forced to drop insurance coverage for employees because of overregulation by the government. When the Democratic Party passed a healthcare overhaul bill, Americans were assured that if they liked their current healthcare plan, they would not be asked to give it up.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners said that McDonald's is unlikely to be given the exemption. Specifically, the healthcare plan in question does not meet a new premium percentage minimum of total revenue that is spent on actual medical care. This means that because the plan does not offer enough financial coverage, the government is trying to force them to increase the coverage. McDonald's has the option to drop the coverage rather than pay in the increased rates.
The plan in question is referred to as a “mini-med” plan. It comes at minimal cost to the employee and pays out a fairly small amount of coverage each year. The McDonald's mini-med plan has a $14 monthly premium and offers $2000 per year in benefits. These plans are not limited to large corporations like McDonalds. These types of plans are affordable and offered by some small business as well.
The question that came to mind for me is this: what will small businesses do if they are forced to extend greater coverage? They cannot afford high-priced lawyers to lobby federal regulators or the Department of Health and Human Services to receive waivers. Even if McDonald's is able to get a waiver or exemption, I foresee many smaller businesses and companies having a difficult time keeping these types of plans. This translates to hundreds of thousands of companies having to give up these mini-med plans because they are all some people can afford.
Being limited to only expensive, comprehensive healthcare plans is not what the American people were promised with the government healthcare bill passed through Congress. We were told that we could keep our current coverage. It looks like new federal regulations are already violating that promise. This is not only a problem of dishonesty, but now some people could be without health benefits for themselves and their families.
I pray that the government comes to its senses and does not create such a restrictive system of regulation and bureaucracy that many are left without much needed healthcare protection.