ObamaCare’s employer mandate was supposed to guarantee that most Americans would obtain health insurance through their employers. But for those workers least able to afford insurance on their own — service employees paid on an hourly basis — the law may well be having precisely the opposite effect, as companies simply reduce the number of employees who must be covered by cutting hours.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Darden Restaurants, Inc., operator of casual dining chains such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse, is doing just that. ObamaCare requires companies to provide “affordable” health insurance to employees working at least 30 hours per week or pay fines of up to $3,000 per employee who instead obtains taxpayer-subsidized insurance on a state exchange. Darden, therefore, is experimenting with limiting most of its employees to 28 hours per week, thus freeing it from the mandate and its accompanying fine.
“Darden said the test is taking place in ‘a select number’ of restaurants in four markets, including Central Florida, but would not give details,” reports the Sentinel. “The company said there has been no decision made about expanding it.”
With approximately 185,000 employees, Darden is one of the nation’s top 30 employers. The company said it offers health insurance to all of its employees, but many are offered limited-benefit plans that will be illegal under ObamaCare. Instead, if Darden’s experiment is any indication of what to expect, they will end up with no employer-sponsored health insurance at all — putting the lie to President Obama’s repeated assurances that “if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance” under ObamaCare.
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Darden Restaurants logo: AP Images