Senate probes McDonald’s mini-med health plans

Posted Oct. 1, 2010 at 1:18 p.m.

Bloomberg News | Senator Jay Rockefeller opened a probe into the limited benefit “mini-med” plans that McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, offers to employees.

Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, asked Scott Beacham, chief executive officer of BCS Financial Corp., whether the company’s health offerings amount to a good deal for many of McDonald’s low-wage and hourly employees. Closely held BCS Financial, based in Oakbrook Terrace, offers limited- benefit plans that cover 30,000 employees of McDonald’s, based about a mile away in Oak Brook.

Mini-med programs are designed to offer a low-cost way to cover part-time employees with limited benefits. McDonald’s told the Obama administration it may consider dropping the plans if it couldn’t get a waiver from new rules governing insurance products. The company said yesterday that it will keep offering coverage, and the government has waived some of the new rules.

“The products BCS is selling to McDonald’s employees are not likely to protect them against the costs of a major health care episode,” Rockefeller said in his letter. “If this is the case, McDonald’s hourly wage workers are setting aside portions of their paychecks for an insurance product that may not be providing them a good value.”

Companies are seeking exemptions from two mandates of the health overhaul signed by President Barack Obama in March. One requires plans to spend at least 80 percent of member premiums on medical care. The other bans companies from capping yearly coverage for each worker.

Low-Wage Employees

The plans are helpful for companies with workforces that don’t make enough to afford coverage, or for which it might be prohibitively expensive to insure, said Daryl Richard, a spokesman for the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc., which offers limited benefit plans to about a dozen companies.

In his letter, Rockefeller asked BCS to provide information on how much of employee premiums actually go toward providing medical care. He also wants to know what limits the plans put on coverage, information about how extensively McDonald’s employees use the plans, and how the company sells the products to the McDonald’s workers. BCS has close ties to Blue Cross & Blue Shield insurance plans, through members of its board, according to its website.

McDonald’s shares gained 52 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $75.03 at 1:11 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

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  1. Angela Oct. 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I am sad to see that the Democrats are making exceptions for big corporations. Too bad we did not take the time to do health care reform carefully. I certainly will be voting the Democrats out in November!

  2. Dan Oct. 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    So, McDonald’s states (or doesn’t state) that the Obama plan is not good for business (not the first time we’ve heard this type of message) but Rockfeller wants to put a quick end to business uprisings/anti-Obama health plans. The concern is a large, influencial multi-national company is the first to really step up and say, wait, this is not good for our business and our employees. McDonald’s os a for profit company and has many obligations (including share holders, of which I am one) and I appauld their move.

    Now, as a Obama supporter, Rockerfeller is doing their bidding and is making threats. I’m sure he wants to send a message — want to drop your plans, well, you better watch out because we will get you. Hey Jay, why don’t you actually read the Obama health plan and see how bad it is for all businesses?

  3. Tax Revolt Oct. 1, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I wonder what a $10 Big Mac will taste like?

  4. St Jacques Oct. 2, 2010 at 6:19 a.m.

    Have you read how much these poor kids pay in premiums each week on their meager salaries? And, young people don’t even get sick! They’re being suckered. It would be cheaper for them to pay for health care out of pocket, which may only amount to a doctor’s visit once in a while.

  5. BOB Oct. 2, 2010 at 6:35 a.m.

    I never voted a straight ticket before this year, it will be a straight republican vote,hoping to clean out obama”s my way or the hwy boys

  6. Peter L. Oct. 2, 2010 at 10:20 a.m.

    So, the government wants to step in and determine whether or not US workers, who voluntarily works for a company (McD’s) and voluntarily purchase a product (insurance), are getting a good deal. So, if the governement determines that the mini plans are “acceptable” then they (the government) has to bend the rules of a flawed healthcare law, so the employees can keep their coverage, as promised by Obama, et al. But if the coverage is deemed “unacceptable” by the government, and McDonald’s is forced to either upgrade the coverage (which they won’t do) or simply drop the coverage, then those employees will be forced to get the “public option”… which is what the government wants anyway.

    So, I have to ask… what gives the government the right to tell a company what product they can offer to employees and also to determine whether of not it’s a good deal for the employees? Don’t the employees have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want this insurance?

    Our government is getting way out of control…

  7. Chicago Nick Oct. 2, 2010 at 11:32 a.m.

    Howz about we probe their health plans and cancel em ? Lifetime pensions as well?