Thousands of Wal-Mart employees enroll in their healthcare program. CNN Money treats this like it's a bad thing.
The story itself is noteworthy mainly because it suggests that the ACA's individual mandate may be having a positive impact, as Wal-Mart reports that "far more" of their employees have enrolled in the company's healthcare program than they expected this year.
What strikes me, however, is how CNN Money is acting as though this is somehow a bad thing, since it "hits" their corporate profits for $500 million:
Wal-Mart Stores says far more of its workers are signing up for its health care coverage than it expected.
Because of that, the world's largest retailer will earn less in the current fiscal year than it had previously promised investors.
While the requirement that employers provide health coverage has yet to take effect under Obamacare, the requirement that individuals have coverage has prompted people to compare plans available to them at work with plans offered on government exchanges.
Um, yup. That's exactly how it's supposed to work.
Wal-Mart (WMT) workers can pay as little as $18 per paycheck to be covered by the lowest priced company plan. The company says its increased enrollment means health care costs will be $500 million more than last year.
"We had built in higher costs [into company estimates] but not to this level," said Carol Schumacher, vice president of investor relations.
Oh My God!! You offered your employees a pretty good deal and a lot of them took you up on it?? Heavens to betsy, I think I've got the vapors here!
Look, I understand that from an investor's POV, anything that "hurts" the profits of your investment is a "bad" thing, but this strikes me as being the same sort of thinking that caused some GOP-run states to turn down Medicaid expansion, even though it wouldn't cost them a dime the first couple of years and only costs them pennies on the dollar after that: They were afraid of the "woodworker" effect, of "too many" people who were already eligible for Medicaid under the pre-ACA rules--but who hadn't signed up for it previously--being encouraged to do so now. When this happens, the state does have to pick up about 50% of the bill for those enrollees, so there's a "hit" to the state budget.
You know what, though? Tough patooties. Everyone who's eligible for Medicaid should be able to enroll in it, and I'm not exactly crying in my soup over poor, beleagured Wal-Mart "only" netting $16 billion this year instead of $16.5 billion. More of their employees having decent healthcare coverage is a good thing, and will actually be good for them in the long run as well, since healthier employees are less likely to, you know, infect your customers or vomit in Aisle 9.