My Personal Experience: Obamacare Just Made My Job Situation Even Worse
January 2, 2014
A few weeks ago, I had to take a minimum-wage seasonal job (which, the job market still being what it is, is now my minimum-wage non-seasonal job). This week, my co-workers and I learned that we’re all going to be cut to part time, to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
The new law will require my employer to provide health insurance for any employees who work more than 29 hours a week. Employers who can’t afford to pay more money for the same amount of work will instead have to cut employees’ hours. Our former, mutually beneficial arrangements with our employer will now be against the law.
Maybe I’ll find more remunerative work someday, but what if some of my co-workers won’t? I suppose they’ll drive around to two or three jobs (if they can find another job in this market) to cobble together a full-time work week, wasting a significant amount of time driving and money on gas. It’s unfortunate, because they already had a good employer willing to give them forty hours a week and more (time-and-a-half paid overtime was common these last few weeks) in one convenient location.
I’m sure supporters of the Affordable Care Act had the best of intentions and were really trying to help uninsured poor like me. It’s understandable if people didn’t fully understand the law and all of the consequences it would have. It’s thousands of pages long. The members of Congress who passed it didn’t understand it. The president says he didn’t understand it. I guess the more complicated and sweeping a policy proposal is, the more likely it is to have unintended consequences.
You can already hear the counterarguments:
“That’s the greedy corporations’ fault, not the government’s! We wouldn’t have this problem if the corporations would just provide health insurance like they’re supposed to.”
“The president suspended the employer mandate until 2015, your employer is lying to you!”
Neither of those arguments would be true or fair. The liberal Washington Post reported back in August that local and state governments (no evil profit motive) were already cutting their employees’ hours for the same reason:
The decisions to cut employee hours come 16 months before employers — including state and local governments — will be required to offer health-care coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week. Some local officials said the cuts are happening now either because of labor contracts that must be negotiated in advance, or because the local governments worry that employees who work at least 30 hours in the months leading up to the January 2015 implementation date would need to be included in their health-care plans.
. . .
“It’s not something we prefer to do, but the cost of health insurance is significant and would really impact municipal budgets,” said Anthony Mercantante, Middletown’s township administrator. “It’s not something we can take on, particularly when we don’t know some of the other ramifications of the Affordable Care Act. There are far more questions than answers right now.”
Middletown spends about $9 million a year, out of its $65 million budget, on employee health policies, Mercantante said.
Again, to provide health insurance rather than cut hours, the employers would have to start paying more money for the same amount of work.
I wouldn’t agree that the employers are all evil and greedy, but I would agree that businesses will generally do what they can to maximize their revenues and minimize their costs. However, that’s not a counterargument (“We would be fine if these darn corporations would stop being so stingy!”); the architects of the Affordable Care Act already knew that businesses behaved like that before they wrote the law. That’s why the law tries to require employers to provide health insurance, rather than leave it to their generosity to do so on their own. People who explicitly try to engineer the incentives for employers should perhaps not be surprised when the employers respond rationally to those incentives.
For want of anything better to do, I’ve designed some T-shirts. They say that people are most persuaded by personal stories; maybe you can buy a T-shirt as a gift for someone you know who lost his job (or got his hours cut, or lost his health-insurance plan) because of Obamacare, and he’ll wear it and so share his story with Obamacare supporters who see him, and it will make them think.
See my full selection of shirts against Obamacare at the preceding link for Cafe Press, or at the following link for Zazzle: shirts against the Affordable Care Act. (In fact all nine designs, using both terms, are available at both.) They even come in illustrated, non-illustrated, gentle, and more confrontational varieties. The gentle (labeled “non-pugnacious”) ones call it the Affordable Care Act, to avoid needlessly pushing buttons that would get in the way of communicating with Obamacare supporters, and limit their wording to a simple declaration of the wearer’s personal experience, the better to persuade those who don’t already agree with us.