"McDonald's and 29 other firms have received waivers from a requirement to up the minimum benefit covered by insurance, making it possible for their employees to continue to buy low-cost coverage. But thousands of other workers are not exempted and will not be able to afford the government's idea of good insurance.
Starting next year, insurers will be required to cover up to $750,000 in costs, ratcheting up over the next few years so that coverage must be unlimited by 2014. The administration calls that a consumer protection, but it only protects you if you can afford it.
Firms that hire low-wage workers, such as McDonald's, can offer "mini-med" plans that provide lower benefits than a typical comprehensive health plan at a correspondingly lower cost. By far the most popular mini-med plan offered by McDonald's costs $24.30 a week and covers doctor visits, hospital stays, and some prescription drugs, up to $5,000 each year.
Raising the benefit cap to $750,000 would put insurance out of reach for workers who clearly want coverage. They are buying that insurance with their own money, without the government telling them they have to. Fortunately, they can now keep that coverage, at least for next year.
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