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McDonald's Seeking Waiver for Affordable Health Insurance Option


Due to a stipulation in the new health reform law, the world’s largest restaurant chain may be unable to provide its limited-benefits plan to nearly 30,000 hourly workers. McDonald’s has asked for a waiver from the Department of Health and Human Services to allow its “mini-med” plan which provides coverage with lower administrative costs.

Many retail employers offer “mini-med” plans for their hourly workers as an affordable health care option. McDonald’s plan by provider BCS Insurance Group has been offered to employees for more than 10 years and provides outpatient, inpatient, preventive care, and prescription drug coverage.

The new health law requires large employers to offer adequate health insurance coverage for full-time workers and to spend at least 85% of premiums on medical benefits rather than administrative costs. Because McDonald’s faces high employee turnover and relatively low claims payouts, their program spends more than most on administrative costs.

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Also, the health reform act seeks to eliminate annual spending caps and lifetime limits as a way to ensure that a patient’s insurance coverage isn’t dropped should he or she become ill. McDonald’s mini-med plan caps benefits at either $2000 or $10,000 per year, depending on how much the employee contributes.

McDonald's Does Not Intent to Eliminate Coverage for Hourly Employees

McDonald’s is seeking out health insurance options for its employees and does not intend to eliminate coverage for its hourly employees, says senior vice president Steve Russell. “We’re not going to walk away from health-care insurance completely, but we’re going to have to look for alternatives if we can’t get the resolution we’re seeking from Health and Human Services,” said a company spokeswoman.

President Barack Obama has said that his administration is working with businesses such as McDonald’s that are committed to providing health benefits to protect their employees.

“In order to ensure that individuals with certain coverage, including coverage under limited benefit or mini-med plans, would not be denied access to needed services or experience more than a minimal impact on premiums, the interim final regulations contemplated a waiver process,” the Health and Human Services Department said earlier this month.