ObamaCare just became very real for some Trader Joe's employees. Part-timers who work fewer than 30 hours a week will no longer be covered by the company plan starting next year—instead, they will pick their insurance policy from the exchanges being created under the Affordable Care Act, reports the Huffington Post. The company, which has a sterling reputation in terms of the benefits it offers its part-time staff, will provide each worker with a $500 stipend. Between that "and the tax credits available under the ACA, many of you should be able to obtain health care coverage at very little if any net cost to you," says the company memo, obtained by HuffPo.
The story includes quotes from one affected worker understandably anxious over the move, and both critics and supporters of ObamaCare are starting to weigh in. On the right, John Nolte at Breitbart writes that it's a sign employers are afraid their health care costs will "explode" under ObamaCare and are looking to cut benefits. But at Think Progress, Sy Mukherjee argues that the "decision isn’t an indictment of the health law at all. In fact, it’s a definitive sign that ObamaCare is working as intended." We're finally on our way toward a "workable insurance market" for all the working poor, not just those lucky enough to work for conscientious companies, he writes. And based on current data, he thinks the affected TJ's workers might end up saving some money each month. (Similarly, IBM recently announced it would shift retirees to a health-insurance exchange.)