These Companies Hate Obamacare

obamaThere is a joke circulating about Obamacare that compares that height of the regulations for the president’s Affordable Care Act — represented as a large stack of papers — to that of the average man and the basketball player LeBron James; the average man stands at five feet nine inches, LeBron James is 6’8’’, and Obamacare regulations stack up to 7’3”. While the image this comparison produces is comedic, its implications reflect concerns spreading throughout the United States that argue Obama’s healthcare reform will hurt business.

As CNNMoney noted, “for cash-strapped entrepreneurs, it’s an added burden as they struggle to run their businesses” because it will require employers — midsized and larger — to offer affordable health insurance to all their full-time employees, or else pay penalties.

Obamacare, which was passed three years ago, has many large companies riled up as well — Aetna (NYSE:AET) and McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) among them.

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As the Huffington Post reported Thursday, Aetna — one of the largest health insurance companies in the United States — is advising insurance brokers on how to evade the new mandates and regulations that will take effect next year. Health insurers, like Aetna, have been warning brokers that premiums for many individuals and small businesses could increase sharply next year, when the legislation goes into effect. While the effects of the law will vary widely, and some insurers and analysts argue that consumers and small businesses will see premiums decrease, UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) has made a different estimate. In a private presentation to brokers at the end of February, the insurance carrier said that premiums for some consumers purchasing their own plans could increase as much as 116 percent and small-business rates could jump as much as 25 percent to 50 percent

Part of the cost increases are due to regulations mandating that insurance companies provide better benefits, accept any customers regardless of pre-existing conditions, and not charge older people rates three times more expensive than those paid by younger people.

In general, corporate responses have been negative. Peter Bensen, McDonald’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call last year that Obamacare will cost the company and its franchisees an additional $140 million to $420 million per year. While he later told HuffPost Live that he regretted making the comment, Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) Chief Executive Officer John Mackey told NPR in January that Obamacare was “like fascism.” Boeing (NYSE:BA) even lobbied unsuccessfully to have the legislation repealed.

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David Overton, CEO of the Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE), had an even harsher — and slightly more descriptive — analysis of how the Affordable Health Care will hurt business in America. He told CBS in December that Obamacare “will be very costly” and “most people will have to [raise prices] or cheapen their product” in response.

For Papa John’s (NASDAQ:PZZA), Obamacare will cost between 11 cents and 14 cents per pizza, but its chief executive John Schnatter has said that the company offers and will continue to offer health insurance to all of its employees.

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