In Obamacare, a 30-hour workweek is “full time”?

Oh, please tell me I am not reading this or that it’s not true.

Because if it’s true, then both my sons will have to worry about losing their jobs. One had his hours cut from 40 to 32, because of healthcare. If this happens, he’ll really be screwed. He can’t live on 25 hours a week’s pay.

So, let’s read:

( – A little-known section in the Obamacare health reform law defines “full-time” work as averaging only 30 hours per week, a definition that will affect some employers who utilize part-time workers to trim the cost of complying with the Obamacare rule that says businesses with 50 or more workers must provide health insurance or pay a fine.

“The term ‘full-time employee’ means, with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week,” section 1513 of the law reads. (Scroll down to section 4, paragraph A.)

That section, known as the employer mandate, requires any business with 50 or more full-time employees to provide at least the minimum level of government-defined health coverage to those employees.

In other words, a business must provide insurance if it has 50 or more employees working an average of just 30 hours per week, which is 10 hours per week fewer than the traditional 40-hour work week.

If an employer has 50 or more “full-time employees” and does not offer health insurance, it must pay a penalty per employee for each month it does not offer coverage.

Tell me again how this president supports small business and entrepreneurship. Tell me again that he has any understanding at all about what is involved in building a business and then staying in business so one can keep employing other people.

All this rule does is force small businesses who cannot afford the regulatory monstrosity that is Obamacare to further cut the hours of their employees, and then what happens? People make less money. They pay less in taxes, so tax revenues go down; they spend less money, so the economy slows and oh, yeah, they need assistance because no one can make ends meet working part-time jobs, or even multiple part-time jobs, like my other son. So — out of the reduced revenue (which means ever-higher deficit spending) more people will need help with food stamps; more people will need housing assistance. More people will become completely beholden to the government for their daily sustenance.

Which, apparently, was the point, all along.

Remind me, because I really can’t remember, are members of Congress and the unions included in all of this boonswaggle or are they exempted? Will life pretty much go on as usual for members of “the party”, as has always been true of suppressive, totalitarian regimes?

This incredibly crappy bit of legislation has to be repealed. There has to be a better way to insure those who need insurance and help those with pre-existing conditions without completely destroying ambition, individualism, hopes, dreams, and you know, all that unimportant stuff.

Why can’t the uninsured affordably buy into government employee insurance pools, with a program similar to what Giuliani created while he was mayor of NYC?

Why can’t insurance be sold across state lines, which would immediately lower premiums across the board?

Why can’t young adults who prefer to do without health insurance pay a simple premium for catastrophic necessity and keep more of their earnings?

There are tons of ways to reform the health care situation. Why didn’t we explore them?

Oh, right. Obama owned both houses and Pelosi and Reid pushed it through.

And now we’re finally reading the bill and finding out what’s in it.

Tell me I’m reading it wrong and wrong in my thinking. My ego can take it; I’d be happy to know it.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Patty

    And I used to work at a job that called a 40 hour week a reduced schedule. Oh the irony.

  • Kensington

    I don’t think you’re wrong; I think this thing is a nightmare, and many of its horrors will only be revealed gradually, so that the damage is difficult if not impossible to fix.

    And thus are statists empowered

    Further, as enthusiastic as I am about throwing Barack Obama out of office, I have a deep suspicion that the Republicans will end up betraying us on this, too.

    Gird your loins! And pray!

  • ahem

    Scott Johnson at Powerline:

    “Obamacare is a monumental house of horrors. Open a door and find another monster. Robert Samuelson opens the door on the law’s distinction between full-time and part-time workers. You think Obamacare might have something to do with suppressing the growth of full-time employment? Consider Samuelson’s observations. And for the most part the law hasn’t even kicked in yet. The Democrats thoughtfully scheduled full implementation of the law to come, of course, after the election.”

    ObamaCare: Rhetoric Vs. Reality by Robert Samuelson at Real Clear Politics:

    Were this good, ethical, legislation, the ACA would have passed after appropriate public debate, negotiation, and with strong bipartisan support. The fact that it had to be cobbled together in secret, without a public airing or input from any critics—and rammed into law unread—tells you all you need to know about it. A good piece of legislation, befitting a republic, would have been crafted entirely in the open and would have taken into account the ethical, financial and and human costs. And it would not have included provisions making it impossible to correct legislatively in the future, as this law does.

    This legislation is essentially an act of politcal control—nothing more. It’s a mere pretext.

    Ponder this, liberals, before you cast your vote in November.

  • David

    Of course, 30 hours is “full-time”. It’s how full-time employment is measured in Europe, and you know how much Obama has said we need to be more like Europe. Of course, Obama supports small business and entrepreneurship. That’s why businesses are reducing work hours or going out of business, and you know how much Obama has said we need to be more like Europe.

    More to the point, this is why my MD wife is seriously considering on opening a concierge practice. We’re trying to figure if we can swing the finances so she can continue to be an MD.

  • Ted Seeber

    It is amazing what you can live on. 2001-2003 I was virtually unemployed- on my resume I ran a home business during that time, but the majority of the time I was collecting unemployment or finding odd jobs here and there.

    I have never enjoyed what one might call a stable career, and it looks like I never will.

  • Myssi

    I would love to say that you are wrong, Elizabeth, but you are not. We need to repeal and replace with help for those (like me) with pre-existing conditions. Actually, as long as I stay at my job, I’m okay because I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease long after I was hired, but I can see getting insurance again being a nightmare if I change jobs.

  • Will

    There might be tons of ways to reform health care but the last time the Republicans controlled the house, senate and presidency they passed no reforms to reduce the number of uninsured.

  • Victor

    HEY VICTOR! Will you ask The Anchoress how come Joe’s not laughing in that picture ?

    THAT WILL BE ENOUGH out OF YA sinner vic! Please cut me a little slack NOW!

    Lighten UP Victor cause “IT” is all done in good fun and by the way vs going to ref the UP coming U>S debate? :)


  • Teresa

    The Congress and the entire Executive branch of government as well as a number of favored unions are exempt from Obamacare. Those folks who are lucky enough to be employed will see their hours cut to 29 per week. One of the best sources of information on this monstrosity is Betsy McCoy, the former lieutenant governer of New York. She has documented the horrors of this law during the past year because she is apparently the only one who actually read it. What you have noted above is only one of the horrors in this law. We are now becoming Europe.

  • Stefanie

    I wonder if everyone in a government job will agree to being called ‘full-time’ at 30 hours….oh, wait, government employees are exempt from this law, aren’t they?

    Sorry, feeling snarky tonight.

    Elizabeth, many many large companies (who pay mostly minimum or slightly-above minimum wage to their employees) have been running to the ’30-hours-per week is full-time’ premise. My son finally left such a job and was thankfully hired by a well-known non-union business in our area — with 40-hours full time guaranteed, inhouse cafeteria, insurance, incentives for college etc. My son still is amazed what a difference a 40-hour guaranteed week has made in his paycheck — and he doesn’t have to pay union dues.

    On the other hand, in our archdiocese, you are considered fulltime at 30 hours. At 30 hours, you are offered health insurance. Under 30 hours — like myself — no health insurance. Many Church employees are 32 hours fulltime – but they put in many many more hours, as you can well-imagine, in support of their parishes. We recently were given a 1-1/2 % raise. Since four years ago, our salaries were cut 10%, had 5% restored when our new pastor arrived in 2010, we’re still 4-1/2% down from June 2008.

    Therefore, I can see why the Church didn’t protest 30 hours fulltime within the Healthcare Act.

  • Becky

    I grew up fairly poor. Most of my family is either uninsured or has health insurance through a government program. My mom is uninsured; at 63, she ought to be getting regular mammograms, but she hasn’t had one since she had health insurance 5+ years ago. Several younger cousins are on state health insurance programs for children or those with low incomes. I understand the concern that excessive government social welfare programs can “crowd out” private charity, but it’s really hard to strike the right balance. If you think things would be better if all government welfare programs disappeared overnight — I’d suggest re-reading Dickens.

    My family is very hard working, and most of them, aside from me, are conservatives. I think of myself as a moderate, but I choose not to ignore the fact that my pleasant middle-class existence is due in no small part to the fact that my college education was underwritten with federal government grants and subsidized loans. I am very grateful. However, I realize that school was comparatively easy for me, so it wasn’t a struggle for me to get an education. Many people in my family are less blessed with “book smarts”; their prospects of obtaining the comparatively stable middle-class jobs for which I am qualified are remote. I do not think that I deserve better access to healthcare than them because I am smart.

    I can see how the discussed provision of Obamacare might unduly burden some small businesses. But what’s the alternative? Single-payer? I’d be fine with that, but if there’s anything that makes most conservatives more angry than Obamacare as enacted, it’s the prospect of single-payer.

    What do you propose to do to increase access to health care for poor people? Shouldn’t we Catholics care about this very much? And let’s please not indulge in wishful thinking that the private sector would magically fix things if the government got out of the way. Where, precisely, has that ever happened?

    I do not mean this meandering post to be construed as a defense of the HHS mandate or any of the aspects of Obamacare that infringe on religious freedom. I oppose those aspects of the legislation. But I do feel like this post — and many on the Patheos Catholic Channel this election season — suffer from black-and-white thinking. The tone is that of aggrieved privilege rather than of concern for the less fortunate. I do not think more government is the answer to every problem. It might not be the answer to this problem. I think, however, there is value in making the effort — some effort — to help improve the lives of the poor by increasing their access to healthcare. I would certainly feel better if my mom could get regular mammograms.

    Gosh, Becky, I’d like your mom to have regular mammograms, too. I never said there should be nothing; I laid out several options that were never even explored before Obamacare was thrust upon us. -admin]

  • FW Ken

    My community of about 1.3 million people has universal health care. Not everyone has insurance, but we have an excellent community health care system that includes a good hospital with an excellent trauma center, regional clinics, women’s health care, oncology, and all the other specialties (I was just naming buildings). Time was, every community had that, or access to it by contract with adjacent communities. So the debate will move forward when we quit pretending insurance equals care.

    Ok, even if we want universal insurance, then Obamacare is the worst possible effort at that goal.

  • NCSue (I follow back!)

    One more example of “obama-math”, which unveils a plan called “obama-care”.

  • Cynthia

    “Why can’t the uninsured affordably buy into government employee insurance pools, with a program similar to what Giuliani created while he was mayor of NYC?”

    Because government employees unions lobbied against it.

  • Becky

    I didn’t read the post as carefully as I should have; I confess that I’m very weary of reading posts on the Patheos Catholic Channel that seem more appropriate for a Fox News blog. Moreover, many of your suggestions — or things substantially similar to them — are part of Obamacare last time I checked. The law is not perfect, but I feel that many of its critics refuse to concede that, imperfect as it is, it is a serious attempt to help people obtain access to health care. Some of the more problematic aspects of the law can and should be changed. But would you seriously suggest, for example, that insurance companies continue to be allowed to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions? Many Obamacare opponents seem to be making the perfect the enemy of the (partially) good.

    On a more general level, I think Catholics should think long and hard before allowing themselves to be used as a mouthpiece for the GOP. That hasn’t worked out so well for the evangelical movement. If it weren’t for Stephen Colbert, I would be close to despairing that there is a place for political moderates, let alone liberals, in the Catholic church.

    [Becky, I'm not a Republican and don't watch Fox News or listen to Limbaugh. My opinions and thoughts are my own, and for that matter I don't endorse Romney. That my opinions align with them isn't something I can do much about, but if you look at the McGovern piece you see me praising him and that I was a lifelong Democrat and I still consider myself a classical liberal. If all of those meanings have changed over the decades, well, there it is. I think you'll find, if you read Max, or Calah, or Joanne or Deacon Greg, or Lisa, or Eve or Leah or Mark Shea that we are mostly not aligned with any political party, and either classically or more center-left liberal than you think on most issues. And I do highly recommend or America magazine if you're looking for something specifically "liberal" and more in line with the Democrats. That's not snark; it's an honest assist. I'm kind of like that car insurance company, comfy with giving you all your options! If you wanted a Catholic site that really IS more conservative and in line with the GOP, I can recommend one also! :-) -admin]

  • KT

    GALLUP: Only 45% of adults now have a full time job. It was 63% in 2010.

    I wonder if this has anything to do with unemployment figures going down in September despite the paltry number of jobs created?

  • Manny

    “There are tons of ways to reform the health care situation. Why didn’t we explore them?

    Oh, right. Obama owned both houses and Pelosi and Reid pushed it through.”

    This was the first time major legislation was pushed through against the will of the general electorate in the history of this country. I wouldn’t characterize it as just “pushing through.” He shoved it down our throats and expected us to accept it, like it or not.

  • TerryC

    We all would like a world where medical care is not money driven. I’d like unicorns and rainbows in my living room too. Making the government responsible for healthcare does not make healthcare independent of economic drivers, if anything it makes it more susceptible to political manipulation of economic drivers. There isn’t a nation in the world where economic issues don’t drive quality of healthcare, access to healthcare or medical decisions. That’s just reality. In England NHS wait times are so long that people die waiting for treatment. Naturally the well heeled use the parallel private health system to get care. Canadians are in the same boat,e except there is no private health system in Canada, so they come the the U.S.
    The latest move in such systems is the advancement of euthanasia as an alternative to treatment. Who doesn’t remember the U.S. state run insurance system that offered to pay for a woman’s assisted suicide, after they denied paying for her treatment?
    Of course this would be much less of a problem in the U.S. if Catholic hospitals fulfilled their original purpose, which was not to be a profit making non-profit, but to engage in true Charity, which in my book means being a money pit. That’s right, any Catholic hospital that doesn’t have to go to the faithful on a yearly basis asking for money to stay in business isn’t fulfilling my concept of what they should be doing. Inherent to that is that American Catholic should be tithing at their biblical proportions. If we did then it wouldn’t be required that the government be interfering in areas outside their purview.

  • suburbanbanshee

    If we had more sisters and brothers who were doctors and nurses, and if they were allowed to run Catholic hospitals on a real charity basis instead of having to obey all the Medicare and Obamacare expensive regs, we would have plenty of free healthcare for the poor and the uninsured.

    But we don’t; and the current government would do anything to keep private religious charity hospitals from becoming prevalent again.

  • Tina

    Your mom can go to Planned Parenthood. They give free mammograms to women in need…

    On a more serious note, there are programs for women to get reduced/free mamograms. When I visited the churches in more disadvantaged areas, there was usually something about it in the bulletin.

  • Ted Seeber

    @Becky- I agree with re-reading Dickens, but I’d point out that the poor laws in England predated Dickens by about 100 years, and what he was writing about was Government Welfare gone horribly, horribly wrong. The workhouses/orphanages in _A Christmas Carol_ and _Oliver Twist_, described as a fate worse than death, were run by the crown at a profit, for example.

  • Ted Seeber

    “This was the first time major legislation was pushed through against the will of the general electorate in the history of this country. I wouldn’t characterize it as just “pushing through.” He shoved it down our throats and expected us to accept it, like it or not.”

    Not even close Manny. I suggest you look up the history of bimetalism in the 1870s when they started enforcing the Constitution and took away local currency.

  • Sharon

    Elizabeth, this is already happening in many large companies. My son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, is employed part-time at a national chain grocery store. (He’s 26. He makes slightly more than minimum wage because he has worked for them for 10 years.) Last year they’d already moved to the “no more than 29 hour” format for their employees. He went from 39 hours a week (don’t want to pay him benefits) to 29 or less. Thankfully, he lives with us and likely always will and he’s very good with his money. (We do not believe in SS disability for him; so he has always paid his own way.) But I feel such sorrow for those with families but no real education who are trying desperately to succeed in this economy. They are forced to become more and more dependent on a government that cares very little for them. I can’t imagine how much worse it is going to get if we can’t get that monster of a bill off the books. I hope I never find out.

  • Maureen from Canada

    The single payer health care system that many refer to is what we have in Canada AND it is a bloody mess. And one reason for that is that all decisions are in the hands of the single payer – the government! And no government, liberal, conservative, right, left, are at all focused on providing customer/client service. You fit into THEIR system and if you don’t – that’s too bad.

    I’ve been on the wait list for knee replacement surgery since December 1, 2011 – at the time I was told the wait would be about 12 months. Not great, but since I’m self-employed it was time for me to get as much work in as possible for 2012 since it would be likely that I would not be working for about the first 4 to 5 months of 2013 (both knees are being done -first one and then three months later the other). Guess my surprise when I was told that I was booked for surgery in August (told not asked) – I said I couldn’t take the date because of work commitments and I was informed that I would only get one more offer for surgery and I would be taken off the wait list and I would have to start the process all over again. After many, many many calls to the health district I finally got them to agree not to call me until late November or early December. But if I had not pushed it, I would have been called in September for a date and would have had to refuse and lost my place on the wait list. The health district was completely unsympathetic that I had work commitments , that I would have to arrange for care from family (who would have to take time off work) or pay for a home care worker (not supplied by our health care system).

    I don’t know what the solution is for the US and health care, – all I know is that the more you hand over to the government, the less and less control you have over your care. Maybe insurance companies are not any better (but they couldn’t be any worse). AND the costs of government run health care goes through the roof – in almost every province the health budget consumes somewhere around 40 to 50% of the province’s budget and more is added every year, but wait lists don’t go down, services don’t get better (but health care staff get paid more – some of the nurses in our district are earning north of $100,000 annually! – I like nurses, but let’s get real)