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Wendy's restaurant sign
Over the last several months we have seen and heard of multiple restaurant chains complaining about the costs of the affordable care act. The tune of these franchises is now changing. For example Wendy’s had initially estimated that it would cost $25,000 per store to provide healthcare to all of its employees as mandated by law. As of March 14th of this year Wendy’s executives cut that estimate down to $5,000 per store.

Before we start cheering this a victory it should be noted that the reason the estimate has gone down 80 percent is because Wendy’s, Chipotle, Jack in the Box, and Popeye’s have all come to the conclusion that:

[M]any employees will decline company-offered insurance, either because they can get insurance through Medicaid or a family member, or because they prefer to pay the penalty for not having health insurance. The penalty next year will be as low as $95 next year, much less than most employees will be asked to pay through company-sponsored insurance plans.

Popeye’s President Ralph Bower states,

[F]ewer than 5% of employees have signed up for a plan that carries high deductibles and costs $2.50 a week…[it is not] expected that many more employees will enroll next year, when employees likely will have to pay about $25 a week for a plan offering more coverage.

It's just not affordable for employees.

What bothers me most is that these employers do not understand what is going on at all. Employees do not want to pay the penalty—they would rather have health insurance. If the insurance is not affordable to the employees we have a fundamental problem that can be easily fixed. Pay your employees better wages. We live in the 21st century, and in this day and age affordable health care should be a right. Not something that only the wealthy can afford.

This is absolutely absurd. Wendy’s net income for the fourth quarter of 2012 was $22.4 million and they cannot pay their employees enough to pay for health insurance? Their revenue for all of 2012 was $2.51 billion. How in holy hell can these people sleep at night when the very people that make them this kind of money cannot afford to pay $100 a month for health insurance!

The health insurance is not so outrageously expensive; the problem is that these restaurant owners, franchisees, and stockholders don’t give a damn about the employees, they only care about their bottom line. If anyone ever questions why minimum wage needs to be raised—well, this is a pretty damn good example of why.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Invisible People, and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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