Teen Workers

The Real Face Of Obamacare: Suddenly-Unemployed Young People

Maine, also known as “Vacationland,” is a state that is centered on seasonal employment. Entire towns—mine included —rely on tourism as a major industry. I’ve worked in the past at an amusement park that’s only open from May to September. My little brother works at a restaurant that’s only open March-October. It’s nearly impossible to go to a Dairy Queen in Maine during the winter, since almost all of them are operated seasonally. Why am I saying this? Because if Obamacare stands as-is, it will become a lot harder for people like my brother and I to get jobs—and that’s unfair.

Under provisions in Obamacare, employers with over 50 employees, like the small seafood restaurant my brother works at, would be forced to pay for health insurance for employees who work more than 120 days. If the company does not want to do that, they would be forced to pay a $2,000 penalty per full-time employee. For part-time employees, employers will be fined for each “full-time equivalent worker” of 30 hours per week. My brother’s restaurant currently has 65 people on payroll. That’s a penalty of up to $130,000 for just this one small business.

My brother hard at work–while it’s still economically feasible to employ him.

This is very bad for young workers like my brother and I. Small businesses (mostly inns, hotels, and restaurants) in Maine are already scrambling as to what they’re going to do if the law is upheld. They’re going to have to hire fewer workers (to stay under the 50-person limit) or close their businesses down earlier to keep people employed less than 120 days.

Or, as likely will be the case of where my brother works, a small business will have to downsize their staff to be under 50 workers. That’s 15 lost jobs at just my brother’s restaurant—jobs that would have been held otherwise by young people.

According to Greg Dugal, director of the Maine Innkeepers Association, “People are really going to sacrifice part of their season so they don’t have to provide health insurance. They’ll have to choose between May and October.” Small inns and restaurants simply cannot afford to provide insurance for all of their seasonal employees—so they’re just not going to hire them.

Cutting the season is an interesting dilemma for employers. May is traditionally the start of the tourism season, with Mother’s Day and Memorial Day Weekend. That’s a lot of money, tourists, and jobs that will be lost due to this regulation. Similarly, October has Columbus Day Weekend and some of the country’s prettiest foliage, which brings tourists in to the state in droves. This is a lot of lost money—but providing health care would likely bankrupt businesses as well. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. Obamacare makes it so that it’s more profitable for a company to fire people or close early rather than pay for health care.

It’s already very challenging for a person my age to find a job this summer: more than seven out of 10 teens are jobless this summer, and this is even before these regulations have gone into effect. I go to school three states away from where I live. It wouldn’t make sense to hire me just for the summer—an employer would have to pay for my health insurance during my four months of being home. It will be way too expensive. I would go jobless.

People my age need jobs. We need work experience. My brother and I feel blessed that we have been able to find employment each summer. A lot of our friends are not as lucky. The teens and 20s are a time when a person learns basic employment skills: things like working at a cash register, how to interact with customers, showing up on time for a job, managing a paycheck, etc. If my generation is unable to find work, we’re going to miss out on this valuable experience. My generation is going to miss out.

It does not make sense that the government would promote a bill that punishes employers and makes it harder for young and low-skilled people to find work. This will result in chronic unemployment and further dependency upon the government. It’s not good, and that’s not how I envisioned my future. Obamacare can and will make things much worse for my generation. It’s already happening.

The media often uses examples of chronically ill people as the “human face” of Obamacare—those who may suffer if the law would have been struck down. Though the stories are heartbreaking, there are healthcare funding alternatives that don’t come from the government. Charities exist for this reason.

There isn’t, however, a charity that will employ my brother if he loses his job as a result of this bill. This should be the real face of Obamacare: the face of the young worker who’s going to lose their job because the law stands.

Christine Rousselle | Providence College

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27 Responses

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  1. guest
    Nov 18, 2013 - 08:38 AM

    do you all know we are in bad mess with Obamacare it cuts and cuts and cuts what we need we will not get at all basic care is not going to work we will
    have a lot of people gone from this world because of Obamacare

  2. Anne
    Aug 22, 2013 - 06:35 AM

    The IRS site actually says most of us have employer insurance so we’re fine and nothing will change for us.

    This is no answer for the people who don’t have that lifeboat which includes the unemployed and underemployed of all ages.

    I wonder if people even know what’s going to happen to them. The Kaiser Family Foundation calculator showed you’d get charged almost $2K a year if you make $25K but only $300 if you make $15K so it looks like a lot of working poor will find it unaffordable to work legally. Fines increase each year so maybe the first year will be the transition time for people to pay the fine while finding another way to survive or wind up homeless.

  3. Steve
    Jan 29, 2013 - 04:52 PM

    I wonder how this will impact temp agencies? Can these hotels use temp agencies to get the help they need? Just a thought… and not its not a sweat shop to hire kids for cheap…

    Wrong about the tax credits…

    “Beginning in 2010, companies with less than 25 employees that pay the majority of health care premiums for their workers qualify for a tax credit up to 35% of their premiums. (In 2014, that credit could be as great as 50% of premiums if you arrange insurance via one of the Small Business Health Options Programs, or SHOP Exchanges). The tax break you get will depend on a couple of variables: the number of employees you have and their average salary”

  4. john
    Jan 28, 2013 - 10:36 AM

    This article is very misleading and the author uninformed.
    1. The AHCA only requires the employer to make available health insurance to it’s employees
    2. Almost all of the employer’s contribution is tax deductible.
    3. If the employee already has insurance, they can opt out, they can not be forced into buying additional insurance.
    4. If this kid and his brother are under 25 and or still in school, then they can still be covered under their parent’s insurance and don’t need to buy additional insurance, therefor, they can opt out.
    5. If this kid and his brother are over 25 and only working seasonal, what are they doing the rest of the year for income? Would they probably qualify to be on welfare and medicaid?
    6. Nearly all employers who hire seasonally, mostly hire kids who are still in school and should still be covered by their parents, so there’s no extra cost for hiring them, and no excuse about health care cost for not hiring them.
    7. Any employer who hires unbenefited kids for cheap, is really running a sweat shop and doesn’t deserve sympathy.

    • John
      Jul 24, 2013 - 07:45 PM

      Nice try John except the parents won’t have health insurance either because the outcome will be that whom ever they work for will become partners or work for less then 30 hours which means they won’t get health insurance too cover themselves or their kids.All comp.are prepared to limit all their empires to 30 hours.not only will Americans be without insurance but will starve and become homeless. It will be 100 times worse then in the great depression.that is Pandas main objective and it will all happen if obfuscate is not repealed completely.not to mention that 70% of all doctors have already begun to refuse medicaid and medicare patients. Oh and John do really think that insurance comp.are insuring kids till 25 for free. Your a dumb as. Have you priced your policy and ductless your paying a lot more with higher deductables and less coverage. And zi p pi ditive of thst.

  5. Tony
    Jan 04, 2013 - 06:33 PM

    The real problem with “health care” is big pharma which charges ridiculous prices, the food industry that produces all the processed food that gets people sick, the FDA and the USDA that are continually bought and paid for by corporations promoting their own agenda and bottom line, and all the other corrupt corporations and governmental organizations. That’s the root cause! The gov’t and Obamacare is just covering up all of that! Health care is a business and keeping people sick is good for business!

  6. Rhonda
    Nov 18, 2012 - 05:08 PM

    How do you pay for insurance if you have no income? Unemployment runs out, mine is soon.

  7. Margaret
    Nov 07, 2012 - 01:48 PM

    The obamacare is a joke to me I right now only part time at my job and with this obamacare making ur job making you a part time employee gave health insurance when we can’t even offorid it is wrong right now after paying bills I don’t have a lot money left over. It is not that I choose a part time job it is all I could find in my town I life in. That I don’t drive cause I can’t afford to. So I can’t drive to another town so my oppion is obamacare won’t help us it will make people even more jobless. I mean I like him just don’t aagree with it all he is about .

    • Kay
      Nov 12, 2012 - 04:40 AM

      Move out of Nebraska or the middle of nowheresville America, because the reality is there are jobs that will pay and offer health insurance. It’s a serious tragedy that the worlds leading nation has so many sick people and citizens don’t know enough to want better. Every other industrialized nation has a national healthcare system, it’s about time we joined the ranks.

      • Trish
        Nov 14, 2013 - 09:37 AM

        Oh how easy to up and move to a new town where jobs “abound” and the cost of living is sky high. I also suppose that every other industrialized nation has been doing the right thing, getting along very well, and this country has been doing things wrong for the last 200+ years?

  8. Bob Selmin
    Oct 24, 2012 - 06:45 PM

    Well maybe you can stop wasting your time working crappy jobs and start your own company or something. Maybe you can even work with a company productive enough to afford health insurance for its workers. Now all we need is free colleges so that you can finally go do something productive with your time without needing to get a part time job at McDonalds. Honestly you would do yourself some good learning something specialized just from the information you find on the internet than working at most entry-level part time job. If more people think like this then companies offering part time jobs will have to raise their wages in order to attract anyone because it is honestly a huge waste of your time. Learn another language or something.

  9. Brittany
    Oct 23, 2012 - 02:16 AM

    I don’t know in what world it is that you believe there are enough charities to cover the countless millions of sick Americans who cannot afford private healthcare or do not qualify because of pre-existing conditions. This country is too prosperous to disregard its most vulnerable citizens. What does it say about our nation when those like you could look into the face of a cancer stricken 9yr old girl and say sorry, you reached your max payout so we’re going to have to go ahead and let you die now… Unless of course your Mommy can find a charity or cause willing to cover the hundreds of thousands the drug company demands to continue providing the experimental treatment that has kept you alive for the last 6yrs. Guess mommy should have planned ahead for the possibility that her only child would be dying of cancer at 9yrs old. This is my story, and there are many thousands like us. A company that can afford 50+ employees should already be structured for insurance coverage anyway. It might cut into bonus money for the big boys, but when did it become morally acceptable to put profit above employee lives and health? A successful company will continue growth will continue regardless of insurance laws, and employers can only hold out at 50 employees for so long. Although your brothers job MIGHT be questionably be in jeopardy one day, a little girls life IS in jeopardy. Your brother can always get a new job, but how to we bring back a dead little girl? It’s easy to use the term “heartbreaking” when your heart has never been literally broken.

    • G. Smith
      Nov 09, 2012 - 06:58 AM

      I’m sorry for your situation, but I must tell you that the affordable care act can’t save your child, nor will it fix anything. The real problem comes from a circle created by the medical and drug industry, the insurance companies, the people and entities that defraud the system, and the trial lawyers. The value of everything is inflated. The system is broken. Throwing rules and regulations at it will not fix anything. They say that 30 million people are not insured. That is less than one in ten. It would cost between 60 and 80 billion dollars to insure each one individually, far less if any of those people are dependent children. Obamacare is said to cost over 700 billion dollars. What’s wrong with that picture? Visit the ehealthinsurance web site and do the math. I wonder where all the money will go?

    • Bob Goldesberry
      Jan 25, 2013 - 04:06 PM

      Seriously, this young girl made a slight comment about charities and you go off like a Liberal nut job. The fact is that a 9 year old girl that has cancer is not going to be turned away from any hospital for inability to pay wheather or not the affordable health care act moves forward or not. This is just a talking point that has been spewed out by the media in defense of this socialist un constitutional law.

  10. mel
    Oct 04, 2012 - 04:14 PM

    so there are just a plethora of nameless charities that will help every single person who is chronically ill?? really??

  11. Larry Wright
    Sep 05, 2012 - 05:56 PM

    This is the REAL face of Obamacare.

  12. chris
    Jul 17, 2012 - 11:36 AM

    TJ whether you like it or not, regardless of the sources you read. There is no doubt that this bill is going to have a SIGNIFICANT effect on businesses of all sizes. It will result in more jobs in insurance and healthcare (it has to or the entire system will colapse) but will negatively impact employment for every other industry. Any business that is slightly over the 50 employee limit will be forced to cut and any business that was on the verge of expanding will be forced to wait and reevaluate. I feel the author laid out some very clear examples of how businesses in their region and their family will be affected. You very simply missed the point. The one thing this healthcare is going to do very effectively is slow growth, and limit the size of the American small business to below 50 employees. I would like to see every small business that has to cut one or more jobs due to this legislation put a sign on their door stating the impact. It is the only way some of us will understand.

  13. T.J.
    Jul 01, 2012 - 06:20 AM

    Please go to factcheck.org and politifact.com for info on the Affordable Health Act becuase there is a lot of mis-information on this site that sounds like it was taken from Fox News which is spewing a lot of mis-information. Is Obama care perfect? Nope. Far from it. Is it the disaster that Fox News is stating that it is? Nope.

    Here is one link that is a long read, but it corrects a lot of misinformation that is out there. I remind you that factcheck.org and politifact.com are non partison websites that both political parties reference.


    • Carla
      Jan 21, 2014 - 03:56 PM

      Thank you TJ, for posting a link to some actual facts. People need to read and understand facts instead of believing bent hearsay.

  14. GJPinks
    Jul 01, 2012 - 03:13 AM

    Please pass a suggestion on to the owners. Ask the to change their prices to show the tax caused by Obama Care. Let the public understand how they will be affected.

  15. Jeff Evenson
    Jul 01, 2012 - 03:04 AM

    This will also create another reason to outsource programming, tech support, graphic arts, web design and other creative labor-intensive jobs over-seas or setup small under-staffed job shops. The government is out-pricing the benefit of maintaining in-house labor.

  16. Allen Scott
    Jul 01, 2012 - 12:21 AM

    The government is not concerned about anyone but feeding its own coffers with the confiscated cash of hard working American citizens. Probably the only reason we are being forced to swallow OBUMMEMRCARE is because his main constituency wants to offload their huge medical expense policies onto the backs of the middle class. The unions have been looking for ways to reduce their medical insurance costs and what better way to do that then to offload them into a GOVERNMENT PLAN paid for by US? The poor, the sick, the otherwise disenfranchised are only pawns in the hands of these ruthless politicians who see only power and look for ways to gain even more power and control over the people. Taking money from one group of people to buy votes from another and to reward those who provide them with political capital to stay in office. THIS CORRUPT SYSTEM needs an enema. I SAY PULL THE LEVER and flush out all seasoned politicians and replace them with SOLID CONSERVATIVE ALTERNATIVES. This is my REPEAL AND REPLACE POLICY.

    • Bearfoot
      Jul 22, 2012 - 08:24 PM

      Just curious.. you are aware that insurance companies are not the same as the government right?

  17. ParatrooperJJ
    Jun 30, 2012 - 10:44 PM

    Form multiple LLCs, each with under 50 employees. That’s the simplest way to deal with it.

  18. Mary
    Jun 29, 2012 - 05:11 PM

    I have news for you, it won’t just be the little fish like you and your brother who lose their jobs. High end people are being let go too. The savings from their salaries will pay for Obamacare. A friend of mine said “40” people were let go at her company yesterday. The reason given ……OBAMACARE!!!
    way to go liberals!



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