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Not worth ‘choking’ over

December 6, 2011
Marshall Independent

To the editor:

There are some interesting numbers buried in George Will's "Choking on Obamacare" diatribe in Saturday's edition of your paper. According to Mr. Will, CKE (Carl's Jr. and Hardees Restaurants) employs 21,000 people "directly" and spent $12,000,000 on health care in 2010. He also writes that CKE has a 95 percent annual turnover in employees (which he dismisses as "not bad in this industry") and that CKE's "'mini-med' plans are...illegal under Obamacare."

$12,000,000 spent on health care for 21,000 employees comes out to an average cost per employee of $571 PER YEAR. By comparison, the combined cost to me and my employer for comprehensive health insurance is $12,000-$13,000 per year (which happens to be a good deal in today's market). That means the $12,000,000 spent by CKE provided comprehensive health insurance for at best only 1,000 of those 21,000 employees - less than 5 percent of the total. Maybe that explains why the "mini-med" plans are illegal, and 95 percent of CKE's employees leave in less than a year after being hired (health care benefits are a major factor affecting employee turnover rates).

According to Mr. Will, "Obamacare" could add as much as $35,100,000 to CKE's health care costs (their "worst case" scenario). Assuming all of that money was spent on the 20,000 "covered" by the 'mini-med' plans (the 95 percent), CKE would spend an additional $1,755 per employee per year. According to Andy Puzder, CKE CEO, the most likely cost to CKE would be $18,000,000 or $900 per employee per year. The savings in hiring, training and bookkeeping costs from the reduction in turnover would likely cover much of that increase. The real cost to CKE of "Obamacare" hardly seems worth choking over.

Paul A. Bridgland




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