Thursday, December 2, 2010

Are Mini Med Policies Insurance? No.

I worked for over a year for the State of Pennsylvania as a temp. Oddly, one can be a temporary worker, at least for the state, for years. (No, I don't know how that works.) Being a temp worker sucks, not just because of the low pay and complete lack of holiday/vacation/sick pay (do you have any idea how many state holidays there are? Pennsylvania includes the first day of hunting season. tru fax.), but also because of the "health insurance" temp agencies offer.

I used sarcastiquotes because calling that plan health insurance is like calling Sarah Palin a feminist. Lots of people do it, but it still doesn't make any sense.

That "health insurance" cost $50 a paycheck, had an overall cap of $10,000*, a deductible of $1,000 and a monthly pharmacy cap of $75. So, yeah, they wanted to steal $2,600 a year from me for no really good reason. And they called it health insurance, I guess just for the added benefit of insulting my intelligence.

So, when McDonalds claims that the crap they're offering their employees is health insurance, only in the sense that Sarah Palin is a feminist. But McDonalds is more than willing to sell the idea to Congress, who is pretty darn interested in listening, though not actually in having "health insurance" themselves.

Among hearing witnesses, Team Better-Than-Nothing was headed up by Rich Floersch, executive vice-president for human resources at McDonald's Corporation. McDonald's helped win itself a crucial waiver from the health-reform law, Janet Adamy reported two months ago in the Wall Street Journal, by threatening to HHS that if forced to comply it might just have to withdraw health coverage from thousands of fast-food workers. McDonald's offers hourly workers at its 1,500 company-owned restaurants four health-insurance options, Floerschexplained. Only one of these options (annual premium: about $6,000 per year, obviously more than most hourly workers can pay) is "comprehensive" (i.e., real) insurance. The other three are mini-meds. The cheapest option (and the one nearly all its hourly workers opt for) cost $710 per year in 2008 (presumably it's more expensive now, but apparently this was the most recent data the commerce committee could get) and had an annual benefit ceiling of $2,000. The other two options cost $1,332 and $1,947 per year and had annual benefit ceilings of $5,000 and $10,000. These same four options are also available from most of McDonald's' 12,500 franchisees.

. . .

Floersch said that McDonald's surveyed its employees and found only 10 percent willing to pay $21 or more per week for health insurance, as opposed to 55 percent who would be willing to pay $5 to $20 per week. He didn't mention (but a commerce committee fact sheet did) that the sliding premiums for the three insurance options available to corporate suits and some restaurant managers but not to hourly employees actually begin at levels below those paid by hourly workers for mini-med plans even though the suits' policies contain no annual benefit limits. That's right. Some nonhourly employees at McDonald's pay less for theirreal health insurance—with no annual limits and, indeed, an employee out-of-pocket maximum of $4,000 for covered expenses—than the schmucks shoveling French fries and flipping Big Macs pay for fake health insurance with annual benefit limits of $2,000, $5,000, and $10,000, and no employee out-of-pocket maximum for covered expenses.Oh, and the absolute highest health premium the suits might pay ($1,435 for higher-earning employees in the "no deductible PPO") is less than a quarter the premium McDonald's expects the schmucks to pay for the only policy hourly workers can opt for that isn't a mini-med. [emphasis mine]

That's just evil.

*The ER charges $500 just for walking through the door, the walk in clinic next door to my work charges $85 to see a doctor, and a decent blood workup will run you upwards of $500. One mild bout of anything would bust right through that cap.


  1. This is the reason why I do not think there should be "choice" in health insurance. Sounds good, but is really a ploy by business to get by with offering an avenue to steal employee money and call it insurance. In fact, there should only be one health insurance plan available to people. It is called, you monthly premium, you get to see the doctor and 100 percent of everything is covered. How hard a program would that be to administer?

  2. Where are all the libertarians saying that if we just get rid of all that govt interference and let the free market operate, the Fairy Godmother Insurance LLC will come along offering a better product for less?

  3. i've been offered that insurance.
    thing is, the employees are NOT told most of that. they just know they pay X and are "covered". gods help them if they ever have to USE that insurance.
    i had it for 6 weeks. the day after i FINALLY got my "packet" in the mail, explaining how it work, i called and canceled it. why? because, in essence, it was CHEAPER for me to have a major medical problem WITHOUT that insurance! all the deductables, co-pays, outof-pocket, etc - in the end, i paid MORE with the insurance.

    *rage* and this just keeps going... if they're non-fry-making employees have better, cheaper insurance, why don't the fry-making employees? why, simple - they aren't "good" enough for "good" insurance. period. THAT is why they can only get crappy insurance - the "owners" [and similar] really do think their employees, the ones who make them all that money, aren't good enough for real insurance. elitist assholes.

  4. sorry - that 1st sentence of 2nd 'graph STARTED as "if they're going to offer" and it became "if their non-..." but the "they're" didn't get changed with it. sorry!!!


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