Tonawanda News

Columns

May 29, 2013

DUVALL: Obamacare isn't perfect -- but what is?

Tonawanda News — The other day I was talking with a friend of mine who I would characterize as a fairly moderate, not-very-political person. She was expressing doubts about Obamacare based on her experience with it at her job.

Her main complaint — one I’ve heard from others before — is the mandate for employers to provide health insurance to all full-time workers will force companies to rely more on part-time workers to avoid the added cost.

Her place of employment relies heavily on young people, generally college students. During the school year they’re part time but in the summer many are traditionally bumped up to a full work week. This summer, her bosses were given a mandate from their corporate superiors to keep all part-time workers below 30 hours and instead rely on the senior employees who are already enrolled in the company’s health insurance to make up the difference.

It’s certainly one of the law’s unintended consequence. Corporations, by nature, act in a way that maximizes profits while minimizing expenses. It’s cheaper to pay a few hours of overtime to a third of the workforce than it is to pay for health insurance for nearly all of it.

The end result is most of her young coworkers don’t get their own insurance — though for traditional college students, they’re now able to remain on their parents’ plans until well after they would graduate at age 21 — and if their parents can’t afford it there are government subsidies available that make it affordable. 

And everyone who does get health insurance is miserable because they’re working all the time.

It’s understandable why someone’s personal interaction with a sweeping piece of federal legislation is an easy way to judge its merits. Tell someone in the 10th hour at the office for the fifth straight day about the nuances of health care policy and you’re likely to get a stapler thrown at your head.

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