Universal Studios Drops Health Insurance For Part Time Employees

Robert Jonathan - Author

Oct. 19 2016, Updated 6:22 a.m. ET

Orlando, FL — Healthcare is not universal at Universal.

The Universal Studios theme park resort in Florida will end health insurance for part-time employees as of December 31 as a direct result of Obamacare.

As The Inquistir has previously reported, other employers in retail or in the restaurant business and in other sectors are doing the same or offloading full-time employees into a part-time status (less than 30 hours a week) so they don’t qualify for existing coverage. Irrespective of the need to hire more employees, some firms are purposely keeping headcount below 50 workers to avoid the law’s provisions altogether. Despite supporting Obamacare, many politically connected unions have sought and received waivers from the law’s provisions.

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Universal explained that its low-premium plan (commonly referred to as a “mini-med” plan) that places a cap on annual benefits is no longer permitted under Obamacare. Universal, one of the largest employers in central Florida, claims, however, that only three percent of its employees will be affected by the change according to the Orlando Sentinel. The paper also reported that Walt Disney World is “still assessing the health-care reform act and how it impacts our business.”

Similarly, according to the Financial Times, David Dillon, chief executive of the Kroger supermarket chain, commented “that some companies might opt to pay a government-mandated penalty for not providing insurance because it was cheaper than the cost of coverage.”

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini claimed that health insurance premiums for some small businesses and individuals could double next year under Obamacare, according the Bloomberg news agency.

The Los Angeles Times had similar findings about the possibility of premium sticker shock:

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“Exactly how high the premiums may go won’t be known until later this year. But already, officials in states that support the law have sounded warnings that some people — mostly those who are young and do not receive coverage through their work — may see considerably higher prices than expected.”

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You’ll recall that in the long struggle to get Congress to narrowly approve Obamacare, the president repeatedly insisted that if you like your current insurance, you can keep it. He and his Democrat colleagues also maintained that the law would health insurance less expensive or more widely available.

NBC News has reported that about eight million people, however, will lose their employer-provided health insurance altogether as a result of the so-called fiscal cliff deal, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated.

Even though Obamacare is the law of the land thanks to a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, the liberal website Talking Points Memo identifies four ways that the law could fail:

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  • Ongoing disapproval/lack of social acceptance of the law by the American people
  • Some governors declining to expand Medicaid (although even some GOP governors are caving)
  • States refusing to set up their own health exchanges/insurance marketplaces
  • Nominees to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (sorry Palin haters; the IPAB is a death panel) being blocked in the Senate.

Perhaps the most troubling development (and The Inquisitr has reported on others) is that new IRS regulations suggest that the cheapest, lowest-tier acceptable Obamacare insurance plan will cost a an average family of four/five $20,000 per year or $5,000 for a single person.

That appears to mean that you have health insurance coverage for you and your family, if any combination of the premium that your employer pays and you pay falls short of $20,000 (in what IRS calls a basic “bronze” plan) or $5,000 for a single person, your premium is going to go up immediately — and probably for coverage you may not even want. Again this is the lowest tier plan. The other alternatively is for your employer, or yourself, to drop health coverage entirely. Companies or non-covered individuals will then be compelled to pay a penalty to the IRS.

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According to Forbes, despite denials issued during the 2012 presidential campaign, the Obama administration is also moving forward with a $716 billion in cuts in Medicare to help fund Obamacare; these reductions will gut the popular Medicare Advantage program, leaving many seniors high and dry.

Against the backdrop of huge cost increases and fine-print regulations that hardly anyone understands could be the end of private sector insurance altogether (which some people argue is the end game for Obamacare, i.e., the so-called single payer plan).

According to an employee benefits expert who corresponded with Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, the complicated and inflexible Obamacare regulations may convince employers that it no longer makes sense to provide health insurance benefits to any employee:

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“It has become very clear to everyone involved who is analytical and not ideological that the rational strategy, for both large and small firms, is to cease providing health care insurance to employees.

“No company wants to admit that they are considering eliminating health insurance as an option, or be the first one to drop their health insurance plan, but once a competitor does so, the preference cascade will begin. The clear sentiment is ‘We will not be the first one to drop our health insurance plan, but we would be a close second.’

“The coming preference cascade for employer group health plans is what the Democrats fear the most, because Obamacare was sold to the masses as ‘if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.’ “

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Muckraking journalist Jason Mattera recently and politely asked Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) about Americans losing coverage and the congressman did not have a good answer (see below).

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If you’re an Obama supporter, do you still believe that the so-called Affordable Care Act will “bend the cost curve down”?


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