It's not surprising that discount retailer Target is canceling health coverage for its part-time employees and dumping them into the hellish ObamaCare exchanges. It makes all the sense in the world for every employer in their position to do the same thing. The Affordable Care Act was designed to encourage it. And kudos to Target for giving affected employees an extra $500 apiece to help them make the transition.
I'd like to invite ObamaCare apologists to stand up and cheer as a huge corporation saves itself a pile of money by discontinuing benefits and passing those costs along to taxpayers, who will now be covering subsidies and credits for the 36,000 people Target used to insure. There will be a lot more to come, both from this company and other employers. Although Target insists it won't cut anyone's hours to push them under the 30-hour threshold and pack them off to the public exchanges, the incentives for doing so are incredibly powerful, particularly in a high-unemployment stagnant economy where it won't be all that difficult to hire a larger number of employees to work fewer hours each. Perhaps Target will continue to resist those incentives, but other employers might put up less of a fight.
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Target Corp. said Tuesday that it will stop offering health insurance to its part-time employees because new online health exchanges offer workers an opportunity to buy coverage.
The Minneapolis-based retailer will give each worker $500 to help buy health insurance, and has arranged for one-on-one consultations with benefits manager Towers Watson to help with the transition.
The retailer announced the decision through its online site, ???A Bullseye View: Behind the Scenes at Target,??? in a Q&A with Jodee Kozlak, Target???s executive vice president of human resources.
In the article, Kozlak acknowledged the disruption to workers. But she said the exchanges might offer options that some workers will prefer, and noted that those who qualify for subsidies and tax credits could find insurance that is less expensive than their current plan offered by Target.
???Our decision to discontinue this benefit comes after careful consideration of the impact to our stores??? part-time team members and to Target, the new options available for our part-time team, and the historically low number of team members who elected to enroll in the part-time plan,??? Kozlak said.
All together now: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan. Nobody is going to take it away from you. Period."
A union representative quoted by the Star-Tribune hits the nail right on the head:
Twin Cities union organizer Bernie Hess sees the move to shift workers to public exchanges as part of ???a disturbing trend??? among retailers. He fears that low-wage workers, many of whom qualify for public health programs, will have their hours limited because corporations can get off the hook financially by sending people to the exchanges.
???All of a sudden where you used to work 31 hours a week, it???ll be cut to 28 hours or less ??? and that???s a huge hit,??? said Hess, of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 in St. Paul. ???You???ll see a department that might have one or two real full-timers and the rest will be these perpetual part-time people who will never have a chance for full-time hours because Target is looking at everyone as a cost.???
That's an interesting point - Obama's forced transformation of the American workforce into a part-time nation isn't just about slashing the hours of existing workers immediately. It's also about raising the bar for transitioning to full-time employment. Target might avoid cutting 35-hour employees down to 29 hours so it can throw them into the public exchanges, but it's not going to be chomping at the bit to hand more hours to employees who currently get less than 30.
There is no reason to resent Target for what it's doing, and as mentioned above, they deserve appreciation for going out of their way to make this transition as easy on their employees as possible. They're merely following the incentives laid out in the Affordable Care Act, which is a blueprint for the destruction of private insurance, and a road map to full-blown socialized medicine. Among other things, ObamaCare applicants don't qualify for those juicy taxpayer subsidies if their employer offers a plan deemed "affordable" by government standards (premiums less than 9.5 percent of income) so the public exchanges can't compete as an alternative to private plans - the private plans have to die.
We've learned that the majority of ObamaCare's tiny customer base consists of people who used to have private insurance, but lost it, despite Obama's promises. Very few of the formerly uninsured are picking up insurance, despite having the greatest theoretical incentives to do so, making ObamaCare a fabulously expensive exercise in using government power to erase private commerce and replace it with socialist subsidies and controls. Target's part-timers will now join that trend. Reportedly only about 10 percent of their part-time workforce was purchasing private insurance from the Target plan, but soon the crushing individual mandate tax/penalty will force most of the remaining 90 percent into the exchanges, where heavy subsidies will turn them into living, breathing pipelines from the federal treasury into insurance company coffers. Since most of these part-timers are probably young people, that will go a long way toward improving the balance of healthy young customers ObamaCare needs to remain viable.
It's not doing much to help anyone's health needs - give it a few years to restrict the supply of medicine, and the health care enjoyed by pre-Obama Americans will seem like a fading dream of an impossible paradise - but as an anti-capitalist attack, ObamaCare is working just fine.
Update: I don't see any direct connection to the health-insurance story, but on Wednesday afternoon Target announced that it would lay off 475 employees from its corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, leave 700 open positions unfilled, and evidently begin outsourcing some of its administrative functions to outside contractors, including some overseas. They've been having a somewhat difficult year despite decent sales volume, thanks to trouble with a big expansion into Canada and the data breach that got them so many bad headlines right before Christmas.