Universal Studios to Cease Offering Health Benefits to Part Time Employees


Photo credit: Dudesleeper / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

President Obama famously promised that those who liked their health insurance plans would get to keep them under his health care overhaul. Implicit in this promise was the idea that no one would be forced off their plans unless they wanted to be. But as it turns out, ObamaCare sets up an array of incentives that make it more tempting for employers to drop or reduce health coverage.  

For example, the 500 or so part time employees enrolled in the mini-med health plan offered by Universal Studios in Florida won't get to keep their health plans once ObamaCare arrives, the Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this week:

The giant theme-park resort, which generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, began informing employees this month that it will offer health-insurance to part-timers "only until December 31, 2013."

The reason: Universal currently offers part-time workers a limited insurance plan that has low premiums but also caps the payout of benefits. For instance, Universal's plan costs about $18 a week for employee-only coverage but covers only a maximum of $5,000 a year toward hospital stays. There are similar caps for other services.

Those types of insurance plans — sometimes referred to as "mini-med" plans — will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act. Beginning in 2014, the law will prohibit insurance plans that impose annual monetary limits on essential medical care such, as hospitalization, or on overall spending.

MarketWatch, meanwhile, reports that employers are dropping coverage for spouses and family members, again because of incentives built into ObamaCare.

By denying coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. This year, companies have to pay $1 or $2 "per life" covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014. And health law guidelines proposed recently mandate coverage of employees' dependent children (up to age 26), but husbands and wives are optional. "The question about whether it's obligatory to cover the family of the employee is being thought through more than ever before," says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health.

The Congressional Budget Office initially estimated that about 4 million people would transition out of their employer coverage as a result of the law. Thanks to some changes that were part of January's fiscal cliff deal, CBO now expects that number to be about 7 million. 

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  1. Oh please let this thing fall completely apart.

    1. Of course it will, it’s intended to be a disaster.

      1. And single payer will be the only solution. ugh

        1. Yeah, obviously the problem with Obamacare is the evil corporations won’t cooperate. Solution: Obama appointed socialist king for life.

        2. Yes, this will usher in single payer. Obamacare will be a disaster just as it was intended to be. What the progressives dont get is that single payer, what they imagine to be part of a glorious utopia, will also be a disaster on par with obamacare.

          May all progressives burn in hell, and drag the squishy republicans with them.

          1. What the progressives dont get is that single payer, what they imagine to be part of a glorious utopia, will also be a disaster on par with obamacare.

            what they don’t get is that such systems are predicated on teh state saying no to things Americans take for granted. All that stuff Obama said during the campaign about “take the pill, not the surgery,” that’s pretty much how it works.

            Even socialized systems realize that money is finite. As such, what we consider routine here, they don’t consider at all.

            1. And once they run of money they have to cut services and make you pay for some.

  2. I have it on good authority that people don’t respond to incentives. Especially rich people. Therefore, I must conclude that this story is false.

    1. Indeed, a 3% increase in fast food prices is positively proven to result in no marginal decrease in purchases.

      1. How does that prove that people don’t respond to incentives again?

      2. Because people can voluntarily choose to stop eating food.

        1. They certainly can choose to stop eating fast food. Well, except for the Whopper, cause DELICIOUS!

          But otherwise – yeah.

          1. What?

            I eat one of those godawful things and I cant eat or shit for two days. I feel like my stomach is full of wet cement.

  3. like Marilyn answered I am in shock that you can earn $5455 in 1 month on the computer. have you read this page… http://www.Snag4.com

    1. Marilyn is full of shit.

      1. Marilyn also told me Obamacare was the shit.

        Fool me once…

    2. Dude, Marilyn said she earned $5455 in 1 month on the corner. And stop calling your mom by her first name, it’s disrespectful.

  4. President Obama famously promised that those who liked their health insurance plans would get to keep them under his health care overhaul.

    Come on, Reason, surely you can see this coming.

    The Obama administration and their lackeys in the press will simply say that this has nothing to do with Obamacare, and is just another greedy corporation trying to stiff its workers– which is why we need Obamacare even gooder and harder.

    This will be chalked up to another healthcare market failure, and somehow, the Kochs will be crowbarred into the explanation.

    You do see this coming, right?

  5. It would be extremely problematic for people to not be able to cover their spouses if their spouse is not employed. You would have to purchase an individual plan for them separate from your own. Which could entail all sorts of other problems – different insurers, different networks, different doctors. Then who takes the kids to the doctor and whose insurance are the kids on?

    Yet more perverse incentives for employers to favor young single people. Then get them to marry in-house and save on health insurance.

    1. Eh? You add the dependents to one plan or the other, weighing all the incentives. I don’t see that as a problem.

      1. Agree with Randian – we did this when my wife and I both had insurance plans. Actually allowed us MORE choice – BONUS!

        Of course that dies with the inevitable institution of Single Payer?.

      2. The stay-at-home wife has a different plan then the kids, but she’s the one taking them to the doctor. Confusion ensues.

        1. But I smell an opportunity for a sitcom!

          Lemons, lemonade….[but not sold at an unapproved local stand by kids, of course]…

        2. The stay-at-home wife has a different plan then the kids, but she’s the one taking them to the doctor.

          I am a (mostly) stay at home father. My wife, being a hypocondriac, has health insurance for which we pay. The children are also insured. I am not, however. It really isn’t an issue when I take the kids to the doctor, they don’t ask about MY lack of insurance, only proof of the children’s.

        3. I am on a different policy than the one my wife has for her and the kids through her work. I take the kids to the doctor. No confusion ensues.

          1. Yeah, I’m not sure I see the confusion issues either.

            Ex-wife just took my daughter to the doctor today. Daughter is on my policy. Ex wife has different policy, different network of doctors. She just takes her to one of the docs in my network.

          2. Thanks, guys. I didn’t know what Hazel was talking about, because I haven’t experienced this alleged confusion either.

            1. Fine. hat’s not too big a deal.

              Still, it’s kind of a problem that you would be unable to cover a spouse who doesn’t work and doesn’t have plans to. What happens if your uninsured wife gets pregnant? That’s a substantial drop in benefits. You’re talking about a few thousand thousand out of your annual income.

              My point is not that “it’s terrible for employers not to offer it”.
              My point is “yet another perverse consequence of ObamaCare”.

              1. If you save money for vacation, why don’t you save money for pregnancy? Why in the hell is a normal pregnancy the subject of insurance in the first place?

  6. Is there a limit to how much I can point and laugh if MORE people are uninsured in 2014 than pre-Obamacare?

  7. I’m shocked. Who could have possibly predicted that something like this would happen? Next you’ll tell me that making it more expensive to hire full time employees will slow down job growth.

    1. I actually am shocked. Well, at least surprised and impressed. I mean, I knew PPACA would dick a huge number of people, but it’s so many more, and such a bigger dick, than even I expected.

      1. The Administration played a stupid game and is losing as a result.

        If they really wanted to ensure that all the employers complied, they should have drafted a more flexible test to answer the question, “What Defines a Full Time Employee?” Instead, they drew a bright line and should have anticipated that every corporation in America was going to do this. I’m sort of surprised that the entire workforce isn’t down to 29 hours.

        1. Have you read the FTE stuff? I saw something several weeks ago that said you have to basically add up total hours, so getting people down to 29 only helps X much. You still add up all hours, divide by 40, and pay penalties for not insuring based on that number or something.

          1. Still, though, this was pretty much expected from the jump.

      2. This is where a few choice Spartacus quotes might come in handy.

        (The TV show, not the film).

        1. Kill them all.

          Season one.

          1. I was thinking of all the anal sex references.

    2. have you learned nothing yet? Demand for labor is inelastic.

      Which means we have nothing to fear from cheap mexican immigrants.

      Get it straight.

      1. It’s the expensive Mexican immigrants that I’m concerned about. How will I afford one then?

        1. How will they get expensive?
          Demand has no effect on price, and vice versa.

      2. Minimum wage raises for EVERYONE!

      3. You aren’t normally the “erect strawman then burn” type, Hazel. Bad day?

  8. As a Canadian I can tell you that we have no shortages and no complaints that the healthcare system is underfunded. Oh wait no.

    Obviously a country with ten times the population and a more dense less concentrated population will be able to make it work.

    Oh the NHS has no problems too!

    1. Yep, and there most definitely are not three huge hospitals in Buffalo full of Canadians.

      1. And the rich and politicians love to use private clinics even in the US. But Healthcare is our sacred trust that defines what it means to be a Canadian.

        1. I thought OTC T3 defined what it meant to be Canadian, at least healthcarewise.

        2. I thought hockey defined what it means to be a Canadian, and I live in a border state.


          1. Don’t forget the CBC, Tim Hortons, the Maple Leafs, hate speech laws (don’t need no Yankee beliefs of Freedom of Speech), “peacekeeping” and “compromise.”

        3. I thought it was polar bears?

        4. Double-doubles and Timbits?

        5. But Healthcare is our sacred trust that defines what it means to be a Canadian.

          We’ve got to be different than the Americans. Better! Damnit. Heathcare is why we’re better than the Americans. Our very soul as a nation depends upon it.




  10. This is yet another example of how government regulations and standards really just eliminate choices and products. Forbidding monetary payout limits with insurance plans doesn’t just magically keep everyone’s insurance the same, except for getting rid of the limits. It essentially bans the product altogether. It may get replaced with another (possibly similar) product, or it may be taken away altogether. In this case, they lose the product.

    1. And of course to them, that’s a feature, not a bug

  11. Another right-wing Kochporation trying to wreck the health-care system because of Greed. I told you we needed single-payer!

    /prog logic

  12. That really angers me. I hate Corporate America.


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