Health Care for All? Really?

Health Care for everyone...  On the whole, it sounds like a wonderful idea, doesn't it?  It's the  right thing to do.

Seems there's a funny little thing called the Law of Unintended Consequences, where  an intervention in a complex system tends to create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes.  So the intended solution makes a problem worse, it actually has a perverse incentive that causes actions opposite to what was intended.

So when we make large scale changes to a complex system such as healthcare, we need to pay attention to what's really happening.   What was it Winston Churchill said?  “However beautiful the strategy, we should occasionally look at the results.” 

So I've been laying low, watching the horizon, and I see some unintended consequences  brewing out there that can be traced to our healthcare reform.  Case in point:

Darden Restaurants, the world's largest casual dining company, is experimenting with limiting the hours of some of its workers to avoid health care requirements under the Affordable Care Act when they take affect in 2014, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.

Darden operates Olive Garden, Red Lobster in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and nationwide as well as the LongHorn Steakhouse chain.

Under a provision of the Affordable Care Act that takes effect in 2014, large companies must offer health care to employees who work 30 hours or more in week.   Under its experiment, Darden is limiting many employees' hours to 28. Darden has roughly 185,000 employees.

Restaurant Chain Cuts Hours to Avoid Obamacare Costs

What?  Now we not only have the badness of no healthcare for these folks, but they no longer have full time employment?  How is this going to affect the jobs numbers?  How is this affecting the Darden employees?    Who's figuring this into the true cost of healthcare?

I have some friends who are generous enough to invite me to accompany them on a birthday celebration every year to The Capitol Grille (Yeah, baby, these are the friends to have)!)  Being friendly folks, they have made friends with our waiter, Buddy.  Last year, Buddy was recently married.  He was so happy with his new wife, his new life.  This year, we had a new waiter – told us that Buddy was taking off some time to celebrate the birth of his son.  We were all so happy for him. 

Well, you've probably guessed it by now – The Capital Grille is a member of the Darden Restaurant chain.  So how is Buddy to be rewarded for his years of faithful service to Darden Restaurants?  By reducing him to part time employment, as well as providing no health benefits for his new family?  Oops, that can't be what we intended...  Who saw this coming?

Let's call this the HealthCare Reform Law of Unintended Consequences #1:  Reducing Full Time Employment to avoid the Cost of Healthcare.  

Now comes the real question:  What are we going to do about it?  Who's running herd on this, and coming up with solutions?

Stay tuned...


Thank you for this awesome

Thank you for this awesome article.

Health Care for All? Really?

This is a great idea! Our health is definitely important especially to those who are working and employers must continue to keep in mind about their employees' health and wellness. In this case, Health care for all must be implemented to provide everyone the satisfaction and retention must have.


Your blog is right on.

I'm sure there may have been some legislators who voted for the Affordable Care Act who didn't see these unintended consequences happening to Buddy and those like him.

Unfortunately, I suspect that those who authored the document intended these consequences, and many others that are not helpful to our economy and people.