Five Guys Burgers and Lies

A franchise owner of the well-loved (until now) “Five Guys Burgers and Fries” burger joints says he may raise prices, fire some employees, or cut back their hours in order to allegedly pay for Obamacare next year.

The franchise owner, Mike Ruffer of North Carolina (go figure), was the “star witness” at a political event at the far-right Heritage Foundation on Monday of this week.  Ruffer is only the latest businessman to aide the GOP war on health care.  He joins proud franchises like Olive Garden/Red Lobster, Whole Foods (where it was the CEO, not a franchise), Wendy’s, Taco Bell and even Papa John’s CEO in expressing public concern, or even scorn, about Obamacare these past few months.

But there really is a special place in hell for someone who’s willing to be used as fodder at a Heritage Foundation political event.  That’s about as political and partisan as you can get.

And while it’s all well and good that Five Guys’ corporate office is distancing itself from its GOP satellite in North Carolina, at some point these companies have to be held responsible for their nutty franchises.

Burger and fries via Shutterstock

Burger and fries via Shutterstock

It’s offensive how bad health insurance is in far too many companies in this country. I know of people personally who gave up on their own company’s health insurance plan, because it cost so much and provided so little, and went instead to the private market themselves, knowing that they were going to be fleeced by private insurers – but they didn’t have a choice.  Better to pay a lot for something than pay a lot for next to nothing, especially when the health of your family, and especially children, is concerned.

Health care costs in America continue to spiral out of control, while health coverage in American companies continues to drop.  All at the same time that politicians in Washington discuss cutting the safety net beneath those programs, Medicare and Medicaid.

The joke is that the biggest problem American companies face isn’t a requirement to provide health insurance for their employees, it’s the actual current cost of such insurance in this country because costs are simply out of control – and it’s hurting competitiveness:

The United States spends an estimated $2 trillion annually on healthcare expenses, more than any other industrialized country. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States spends two-and-a-half times more than the OECD average, and yet ranks with Turkey and Mexico as the only OECD countries without universal health coverage. Some analysts say an increasing number of U.S. businesses are less competitive globally because of ballooning healthcare costs. U.S. economic woes have heightened the burden of healthcare costs both on individuals and businesses. The U.S. healthcare reform law signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 includes measures aimed at making health care less expensive and more accessible, including upgrades to government-run Medicare and Medicaid.

But far too many companies, and their henchmen in Congress, keep standing in the way of real reform to address the absurd cost of medical care in this country.  So, when we pass laws requiring them to actually provide a decent amount of insurance for their employees, they whine about the cost, but at the same time refuse to help do anything to reduce those costs.

So we continue to fiddle around the margins of a supremely broken health care system that, in my view, is a ticking time bomb.  We are not our parents’ generation.  A lot of them had decent coverage at work.  At lot of us don’t.  And as we age, the need for medical care increases, and a lot of us are just beginning to experience how insanely expensive normal, routine health care is in America today ($21,000 for heartburn, seriously?).  At the same time, our personal wealth decreases or stagnates, and our retirement looks more and more bleak as Republicans and Democrats insist on saving money not by cutting costs, but by cutting benefits to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

If American politicians think today’s seniors are a scary bunch to take on politically, just wait until my generation hits retirement age with our lousy retirement plans, lousy savings, lousy insurance, and even fewer benefits in programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – as all the while health care costs continue to go through the roof.  God help Washington when that finally happens.  Sadly, however, it will probably be too late to do anything about it.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • wildwildwest

    I love to eat at restaurants that have low prices… especially those whose prices are low because their employees don’t have health insurance. Usually, those are the same places that don’t give their employees paid sick days. I really enjoy being served by a waiter who is deathly ill with a nice virus or some other condition. I mean, you’ve got to get your germs somewhere, right?

  • Josh Apple

    Does Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson SR and JR, both Clintons, Charlie Rangel, President Obama, and Louis Farrakhan also fit in that bag full of douches?

  • Josh Apple

    Is the author of this piece insulting North Carolina, the finest state in the nation?

  • I work for one of the big 3 Pizza chains and we are not allowed to work over 20hr due to up coming healthcare regulations. This sure makes it hard to get my business of the ground since I am not making as much.

  • slappymagoo

    Don’t blame me for your poor reading skills, I pay my taxes for public education…

  • Thanks for chiming in your average idiot American

  • slappymagoo

    Apples have no place in a conversation about Five Guys.

  • Not to mention sneezing in your salad.

  • What was it about one bad apple…

  • slappymagoo

    “national political beliefs?” This is one franchisee in one state, not any sort of official policy throughout the chain nationwide, so unless this guy owns the franchise you would otherwise go to, boycotting your local Five Guys for this (as opposed to health or other reasons) is asinine. That’s the point. Your reading skills apparently match your writing skills (hint: not a compliment).

  • So… instead of becoming obese by eating at one chain, I shouldn’t chose another because of their political beliefs?

    After all, ain’t Five Guys not Five Guys?

  • “Does that make any LOGICAL sense?!”

    Of course it does… for the insurance company shareholders, that is.

  • rdfInOP

    I generally agree with you …. sort of. I think it might be possible to do this without the government.

    — I would decouple insurance from employment. That means that the insurance companies will be dealing directly with us and not with middlemen (our employers). We do this by implementing the points below. If people can get a better deal outside of their employer then they will migrate away from employment based coverage.

    — Employers must disclose what they are paying per employee for insurance. If the employee chooses not to use employer coverage, then that money should be paid to them. Employer health insurance is not a gift. It’s money that the employer is spending on behalf of the insured.

    — I would force fungibility in the markets. That is, I would force every company to offer certain base policies that are identical in every way (except price). This is something we don’t have. Companies hire consultants to try to figure out the different copays and benefits.

    — All health care insurance companies would be mutual companies. My home and car insurance are with a mutual insurance company. Mutuals are owned by the policy holders and are not in business to make a profit. If there is a profit in a year, it goes to lower premiums, to the reserve, or back to the policy holders as dividends.

    — With fungibility, it would be easy to offer policies across state lines. That would increase the size of the risk pools. My company of 35 people is a risk pool of thirty five. A guy got cancer and every bodies rates went through the roof. Big risk pools are good.

  • rdfInOP

    All things in moderation. Around here 5 guys is about the best burger at any price. I have one two or three times a year.

  • rdfInOP

    Some time ago, I went to a sandwich shop where they had a variety of hot sauces. Among them, I found “Al Gore Invented the Internet” sauce. That whole internet thing has been a sore spot for me ever since 2000. They handed me my receipt and I found a link for a customer satisfaction survey. I logged in and said that I thought such a politically oriented sauce was a cheap shot and was inappropriate, especially since Gore never made the claim.

    I got two responses. One was sort of boilerplate from corporate saying that they blah, blah, blah and that they would pass it along. It was about what you would expect (in a good way) from the franchiser. Then I got a call from the local franchisee who read me out over the phone. How dare I infringe on his 1st amendment rights. I pointed out that he is entirely free to say what he wants and I am entirely free to comment upon it. That really made him mad. I let him rant for another 5 minutes and then hung up. I haven’t been back.

    My point is that all franchised organizations walk a fine line. That 5 guys owner can say what he wants. If the statement came from corporate (Papa Johns), then I would take notice. If the comment is local, the reaction should also be local.

  • Good idea!

  • SkippyFlipjack

    Actually, the parts of the ACA combine to make a decent if not great solution. I guess you’d like to just keep saying their solution is a bad one without offering a better one, which doesn’t seem to be terribly productive. At least you seem to have engaged in this discussion without stooping to much of the “makers/takers” argument.

    As for the hiring practices angle, view that with a skeptical eye. The ones saying that are employers who don’t want to have to pay for healthcare for their employees. If any employer decides to get rid of some employees just to drop below the 50-employee threshold they’re really not a great businessperson, because they obviously need those people to operate at full efficiency. It’s a short-sighted way to run a business.

  • GoneFishing

    So, we’ve come full circle. Nobody has a real solution, myself included. But, as a way of addressing the health care issue, I seriously do not believe that the employer should be scapegoated with the burden. That is neither the way nor the solution, just for the sake of devising a solution. On top of that, the crux of the article above is that as part of the new adjustment to new laws, the impact will affect hiring practices. And as we’ve been seeing, those changes may not be so favorable to both employer and employee. Unfortunately that’s a discussion for another time. Sorry, but I’ve got other things to do and no more time. I wish you well anyway.

  • Zmf636

    Obama couldn’t write a more biased story than this one… lol

  • SkippyFlipjack

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth; I was just stating the implications of what you said. When you say that it’s a “question that should be directed at the insurance industry” you have to admit that their answer will be “no.” They will not cover the people who are most likely to cost them money, unless those people are in a corporate group plan. So that’s not a solution. Do you have another one?

  • I know. Properly funded, NHS is a fine system.

  • GoneFishing

    Nice try. I didn’t say anything about the government telling anyone what to do. I said, “…that’s a question that should be directed at the insurance industry, not the employer.” As in, the insurance companies are the ones who ultimately decided who was covered, why and why not, and what was covered.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    I’m not sure he really liked it, he sort of appropriated it; lots of examples in history of people adopting insulting monikers in order to defuse them.

  • GoneFishing

    Of all the petty things, you choose to be the vocabulary police?

  • SkippyFlipjack

    and I think you misunderstood mine. You wrote that beyond salary, “Anything extra is a benefit that an employer is willing to do for his employees,” including healthcare. I’m saying that healthcare is different from any other employee benefit because pretty much everything else is just a bonus, and I used a company car as an example — it’s great when your employer supplies you with a car, but if they don’t you can always go out and get your own car. For many people, they can’t go out and get their own insurance — literally cannot get any insurance provider to cover them.

  • GoneFishing

    You misunderstood my comment. You brought up the subject of company cars, not me. I was talking about employers offering health benefits to lure employees.

  • ezpz

    I’m not necessarily saying that specifically. I don’t really know. And THAT is the problem — we just don’t know because it has not yet gone into full effect.

    I do think that it WILL be, as you said: “a massive change from the way things work now.”

  • Freday63

    5 guys no girls? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  • Freday63

    Funny, if you google “Mike Ruffer Five Guys Burgers” one of the first photos in the image gallery is of Obama ordering a burger at Five Guys…Hmmmm

  • SkippyFlipjack

    You’re saying that starting a new job might entail a health examination before starting insurance coverage, which would be a massive change from the way things work now. It’s possible of course but is unlikely enough that you’d want some evidence before worrying about it. (Edit to add: this is, again, in my experience; perhaps some businesses take advantage of plans that do require physicals before determining employee contribution, I’ve just never seen that.)

  • ezpz

    That was then. We don’t know if that will still apply when the ACA is fully implemented.

  • ezpz

    Obama said he liked the term obamcare.
    And btw, which republicans voted for it? As I remember, not one did, and even some of the dems had to be ‘persuaded’ by taking a ride on AirForce One, maybe.

  • Whitewitch

    It is not “obamacare” it is the affordable care act or ACA for brevity sake. Repubs voted for it too or it would not be the law. Now there is an edict so embrace it raise hour prices and move on. I will happily pay more for your burger or widget knowing your employee has coverage.

  • Whitewitch

    Doubl triple like well said

  • slappymagoo

    I’d say “well now you’re just being silly” but it looks like you were silly one comment prior to this. Points for consistency, though.

    All I’m saying – reactionary yappy a-hole that I am – is it makes no sense to punish an entire company for the actions of one franchisee when a: the company does not agree with the franchisee’s statement and b: other franchisees might feel the opposite way so all your really doing is punishing “good guys” while the “bad guy” in his neck of the woods, will probably see his business increase as a result of his “bold stand against Obamacare” which I believe is a registered trademark of the GOP.

    All of this assumes you’d eat at a Five Guys in the first place, which I admit I do a couple of times a year but even in my closed minded zealotry I know that’s killing me so I usually steer clear.

    Finally, thank you for your comments, we will work to improve your satisfaction in the future, here, have a free coupon for a sit ‘n spin.

  • Whitewitch

    I don’t think Eda is judging you…..rather you seem to be judging yourself by hearing his/her scripture quores as applying to you. Eda did not say all repbs or all Christians just those that ignore the particular command from Christ. Look inside and judge only yourself don’t let anyone particularly an anonymouse poster cause you to feel judged. Saddly many could do more and choose not to. Or worse give only what or to whom they believe are deserving. I think Christ were he real would grieve that those who proclaim to be yhe most righteous are the cruelist (that would be the Paul Ryans of the world) edited to fix darn autocorrects.

  • Whitewitch

    Apparently under the American system it is the employers responsibility. Just like they musty have a safe workplace or pay at least minimum wage. Sorry such is life. Get used to it or vote for a universal health plan that will allow everyone to have care and divide the cost amongst all Americans equally.

  • You pretty much just described the U.K.’s NHS.

    There’s no need to reinvent any wheels here. We have lots of templates for universal health care that works from, you know, basically every other industrialized nation on the planet.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    btw greece is foundering, not floundering (very common mistake)

  • SkippyFlipjack

    Insurance companies will never choose to cover the people who are most likely to cost them the most money. They’ll only do so under government orders. Why are you happy to have the government tell insurance companies what to do, but not other types of employers?

  • SkippyFlipjack

    By saying I’m advocating “Well, someone’s got to pay,” you’re trying to force me into your little “makers and takers” box. Nobody is calling job providers “evil,” you’re adding that yourself. We need a plan for affordable healthcare in this country. Nobody wants to talk about single payer because with all due respect it makes Republicans go apoplectic about “SOCIALISM!!!”, so we end up with these cobbled-together solutions. You seem to be caught up in who is paying for health insurance premiums, but it’s all about who is able to get insurance, not who’s going to pay. Companies get the best rates and don’t reject people with preexisting conditions, so Obamacare wants them to share that with their workers.

    Re: your last point: a company car a benefit, something a company uses to lure employees. It’s not essential and is on top of salary. Health insurance isn’t like that, because for many people if their job doesn’t give them health insurance they can’t get health insurance. That’s why you can’t just call it an optional benefit along the lines of a company car or work-at-home days or free health club access or whatever other benefit you can think of. It’s much, much more important.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    In my experience, my company insurance plans have always had fixed premiums that were the same for all employees. if there’s variation the company pays, not the employee.

  • GoneFishing

    First of all, I am a Christian.

    Second, I don’t misuse the Bible for an agenda. Your denial of your own judging is BS. You just claimed, quote, “…Jesus has declared that most Republicans in public office — and the
    people who put them there — have condemned themselves to burn in hell
    until the end of time and beyond…”, end quote. You’re no prophet.

    Third, I learned very early on that charity comes from the heart of each individual. That means charity can not be legislated through laws…at that point it’s no longer charity. Where I can, I donate to charitable organizations just like millions of other Americans. Maybe I could donate more, but that’s MY decision, not yours or any politician’s.

  • The downside in the usual rah-rah jingoistic American exceptionalism and belief this country is the greatest nation there ever was, is, or will be is the created unconscious mind-set that everything, every aspect and details of life for people living in other countries, is presumptively inferior.

    Even though objectively, if you describe to someone how it is to live in those countries — guaranteed basic healthcare, decent wages and benefits, cheap broadband and cellular, months of vacation time as opposed to a few paltry weeks or none at all, paid leave, decent public and private pensions — they’d say of course those are things we wish we could have. But in their mind, since America is the greatest, most perfect nation ever, we simply can’t choose to have those things, because if it was within the realm of possible we, the ‘greatest’ nation, would have done so already.

  • Drew2u

    Went to my first 5 Guys in Chicago. Can’t say I was impressed.

  • The core truth: We should not be depending on healthcare system based primarily on employer-provided health insurance.

    If I was Queen Bitch of Ammurkah, this is what it would look like:
    – Basic preventive, urgent, chronic, and catastrophic care guaranteed for all Americans, paid for with a dedicated progressive tax. Essentially, “Medicare For All” — only with a reformed tax structure. Everyone would be covered from cradle to grave.
    – Private supplemental insurance is allowed, but heavily regulated in both price and coverage.
    – No exemptions for coverage due to religious or political beliefs.
    – Drug and services negotiation in the newly expanded Medicare system. Drug importation permitted for any medication that can be purchased more cheaply that way.
    – No pre-existing condition denials, no annual or lifetime benefit caps.
    – An independent board or commission to which one can appeal any coverage denial and get an answer back in 3-5 business days or less — and if the answer is ‘yes, this should be covered’, it must be. Members of these boards or commissions would be qualified physicians with no financial interest in the outcomes or decisions. If coverage is denied, it should be eligible for a second and possibly even a third review, with additional documentation able to be submitted.
    – A ban on pricing for items, accommodations, or healthcare services that are clearly vastly inflated over actual cost of providing them. No more $5 tylenol pills or $20k no-treatment emergency room visits.
    – Serious fines, including the possibility of corporate dissolution (for companies and prison time (individuals, including company executives) for anyone found guilty of Medicare fraud or the infliction of bodily harm or death through malpractice or the profit-motivated withholding of treatment.

  • EdA

    Dear Gone,

    The two — working hard and treating employees decently — are NOT mutually exclusive, as the word “also” indicates, and there are a great many employers who do treat their employees decently. Nor am –I– the one doing the judging.

    Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    Until Romneycare, enacted in Massachusetts under the conservative Republican governor. It has been clear since Ken Arrow’s paper in the 1960s that the incentive structure of health care provision is prone to malincentives and not unlike a protection racket. The only way society can prevent protection rackets is to bust them or modify the incentives (e.g. public utilities for example).

    Since the least intrusive and most tested model was Republican designed mandatory insurance, that’s what we got from Republican lite Obama following Republican lite Clinton. Medicare for everyone would have been a better system with some tweaks but it would have disrupted markets in several sectors-health care provision and pharma. It was much easier politically to take the hammer provided by Romney and use it against him, his conservative backers and supporters egged on by black propaganda from Fox.

    At the same time it bought the temporary loyalty of big money racketeers in the health insurance biz and made some market plays for Wall Street as they worked the implications for the markets. The GOP handed Obama the rope and said “hang us we dare you.” Now the GOP is desperate to backpedal from the spectacle they made of themselves with Romney’s wealth worship and pandering to aristocrats.

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    Be not like the Pharisees blah blah

    for if you would join me you would give up your yada yada camel eye needle.

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    Government requiring business to purchase health insurance is a public good; it is less good in some ways than providing public health care. How many tuberculosis burgers would you like to eat today? How many tapeworms, roundworms and flukes would you like in your food? Government interference is preventing you from getting as many endoparasites as the free market would have given you.

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    So you’re not a Christian. Fair enough. Conspiracies are everywhere-people are convicted of conspiracy all the time. Your unfocused and pointless rant simply rehashes what passes for the status quo. Bravo.

  • At what point is the price of their burger no matter how good it tastes just not worth it? After all, they already charge A LOT as-is so it’s not like they aren’t making a killing on those things.

    Of course, pair the high price of their food with rotten decsion to deny their low-wage employees healthcare coverage and they’ll pretty much make the decision for me.

  • 5 guys, ten tea bags!

  • Speaking of yappy a-holes.

  • You want reactionary dude. Right here. —Will watch you stuff yourself full of bigot food and see you go bankrupt in one ER visit.

  • GoneFishing

    So EdA, you’re against working hard and paying your own way. You’d rather someone pay for your stuff. I find it repulsive that you use a Bible verse to justify your bad ethic, and judge one group of people as if anyone else is as pure as the white snow.
    “Judge not, that ye be not judged…” Matthew 7:1-5

  • For every one of these corporations I ask the same question and NEVER get an answer. Five Guys, like all the others does business in Canada, many of them in “single payer” health care Europe. How do they operate in those countries, make a profit, and not ABUSE those employeess with threats of layoffs and cutbacks? It’s a legit question that I’d like a sincere, honest answer to. I may not like the answer I get, but the American worker deserves to know.

  • billylost

    I agree – all of those companies (except Whole Foods, which is another issue) are purveyors of organ disease and ill health because of the foods they sell, so they should be avoided irrespective of their ridiculously cruel and insincere arguments on the issue. And doesn’t it make sense to avoid the risks when medical care and insurance costs are rising so dramatically?

  • And where do these nutballs find their “facts” about Obamacare? “Because Faux News told them” is not facts.

  • EdA

    “It used to be considered honorable to work hard and pay your own way.”

    It also used to be considered honorable and decent to pay people a living wage. In fact, for people who try to follow the positive ethical teachings of the Old Testament and for people who actually do try to follow Jesus’ teachings, it’s obligatory. Which is probably why Jesus has declared that most Republicans in public office — and the people who put them there — have condemned themselves to burn in hell until the end of time and beyond. (Matthew 25:42 ff)

  • GoneFishing

    Again, that’s a question that should be directed at the insurance industry, not the employer.

  • emjayay

    Businesses pay the rent or building mortage they have to pay. Businesses pay the employees what they have to pay. It it absurd for a business like a restaurant to claim they will have to fire employees or cut hours because of the ACA. Restaurants don’t generally have employees on the payroll to stand around doing nothing. If they hire fewer cooks or waiters or cashiers, they can’t do as much business. They pay wages and FICA and unemployment insurance because they have to. They will pay for health care if they have to.

    Everyone is right, health care shouldn’t be tied to your job. But for historic reasons it’s the system we have. The Obama people figured fundamental change was a bridge too far, so they decided the Rube Goldbergian ACA, which was like what was already working in Massachusettes, was what they could pass. Maybe after a decade or two of essentially covering everyone with this awkward and complex scheme we will move toward something better. (Besides the ACA, why should poor people and old people and retired military people all be in fundamentally different systems? Why should health savings accounts even exist?)

  • GoneFishing

    Here is where I have difficulty relating to your last comment. Since you agree that it’s unfair that businesses should be forced to supply health insurance, it sounds to me like you’re advocating, well, someone’s got to pay. I don’t have a solution either, but other than the belief here amongst the other writers for government dictates on the employer, no one else has the solution either, but they’re happy to lay it at the feet of “evil” job providers.
    I believe this is an issue to be taken up with the insurance companies, rather than the employers. But that industry wouldn’t be as easily a target of the government.
    BTW, I disagree with the analogy of benefits and a company car. Until “obamacare”, healthcare was a benefit, either offered directly by an employer, or hammered-out in agreements with unions/associations. There was no federal edict to do so.

  • Clevelandchick

    It’s still too expensive for them, let alone humans.

  • Clevelandchick

    Yeah, went through something similar, I declined further testing because basic tests indicated I wasn’t having a heart attack and I was afraid of the bill since I didn’t have insurance. Glad I did or I’d have been stuck with a $21K bill instead of $3K. The only test I refused to ‘concretely’ determine I wasn’t having a heart attack was a CT scan. Regardless, $21K for tests to rule out a heart attack is beyond the bounds of reason.

  • Clevelandchick

    Five Guys failed in the one of the most populated inner ring suburb cities in the nation, Lakewood Ohio, 5 square miles 25M people. You can get an OH grass fed beef burger and fries w/local sustainable veg at local indies (and a good local craft brew) for about the same price their fast food dreck costs. In less than 2 years, the franchise failed in prime location the center of town.

  • ezpz

    I don’t know about that. It’s been reported that premiums will be considerably higher for preexisting conditions. I wouldn’t be surprised if copays and deductibles will also much higher, making out of pocket costs unmanageable at best. I don’t think the medical bankruptcies will stop.

  • emjayay

    Instead of making claims about some anonymous foreign country (at least we know it’s not Canada, which isn’t “overseas”), how about idenifying it so we can actually look into the health care stats and costs in that country. What exactly is the reason to make claims about a country and not identify it?

  • SkippyFlipjack

    All true, but if you have a preexisting condition, that’s worlds apart from having no insurance at all.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    This is an important topic overall, but one niggle with John’s post — it wasn’t “$21000 for heartburn”, it was $21k for a possible heart attack. We don’t pay for services based on the outcome but on the services themselves; if the woman had been treated with the urgency of someone with heartburn, that would have been a huge problem. The real issue was the $21k bill, which was 10x what they would have charged a Medicare patient.

  • ezpz

    In case you haven’t noticed, obamacare is also very much “…skewed towards money as an end in itself and against humanity, the public good, national interest, etc…”

    Requiring – under penalty of law- that everyone *buy* a policy with no regulations or standards or caps on premiums, copays, deductibles, caters to the industries who regard …money as an end in itself and against humanity, the public good, national interest, etc.”

  • ezpz

    Where in the ACA is it written that “if you work at a company with a healthcare plan, you won’t be denied coverage.”?

    You may get a policy from a private insurance company, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into ‘coverage’ since the insurance industry will still be allowed to arbitrarily deny claims for procedures, medications, etc. that they deem to be not cost effective for their bottom line. Let’s not forget that at the fore of the ACA is the private, rapacious insurance industry, continued, obscene profits of which Obama made sure to guarantee.

  • Twain

    Five Guys just opened a place about two weeks ago in my area a short distance south of SF. Had never heard of it. It’s liberal country here so they may have a problem.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    Right, that sounds great, but it’s the micro view of the situation. The macro issue is the huge cost of health care and its effect on our economy. Businesses have unfortunately become part of the provider network, so they were included in the Obamacare mandates. If they’re not included many more individuals would be forced to purchase health insurance; is that who you’d like to shift the burden onto? What’s your solution for dealing with preexisting conditions?

  • SkippyFlipjack

    If you think the other side is just “gimme gimme” you’ll never get over the partisanship, which you said you’d like to avoid.

    I posted a more in-depth explanation above. Our ability to get health insurance is tied to employment — if you had a bout with cancer three years ago you can’t get insurance, but if can get it through your job, you can. That puts employers in the unfortunate position of having to provide a basic human service. It’s not a “benefit” like a company car — you can get your own car if work won’t give you one. And it has nothing to do with working hard and paying your way — if you get cancer while you don’t have insurance, you’ll never get your own insurance again.

    If you think it’s unfair that businesses should be forced to supply health insurance, and I agree, what’s your solution for dealing with the lack of access to healthcare?

  • Jafafa Hots

    Yeah, the profit motive is the best way to keep prices down.

    Also, someday airliners will be made from live pigs.

  • Jafafa Hots

    Health alone is a good enough reason to avoid the place.

  • The Heritage Foundation who developed the idea of insurance exchanges and the individual mandate, are now against it. What a bunch of racist, lying, hypocritical douche bags.

  • GoneFishing

    And all I’m saying is it’s not the responsibility of an employer to do anything but pay his employees their wages/salary. Anything extra is a benefit that an employer is willing to do for his employees…not dictated to do. Sure, it may be considered a moral choice by the employer, but It’s not the job of the Federal government to make that decision and regulate every aspect of our lives.

  • Indigo

    5 Guys? Too greasy!

  • GoneFishing

    None of what you just said was what I wrote. It never was a requirement for business to provide anyone with healthcare. Many businesses did so to entice good employees…a benefit offered, not dictated by government. That’s the way it should be. It used to be considered honorable to work hard and pay your own way. But now the attitude of the gimme, gimme generation is that someone else should pay for their stuff. That’s why Greece is floundering now.

  • You do realize that “socialist” isn’t an insult? (I mean, outside of AM radio, which I’m guessing is your bread and butter.)

  • GoneFishing

    Spoken like a true socialist. Business has ALWAYS existed to provide service for profit. People pay all over the world for the things they want. There’s nothing evil about that, unless your an Occupy Wall Street drone and believe in conspiracies everywhere.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    Saying that people who want businesses to provide healthcare in a society where healthcare is tied to employment are “anti-business” is just wrong. You won’t win any arguments like that. You’re saying that businesses who do provide healthcare are anti-business too, which seems weird.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    If you want to avoid partisanship, avoid the generalizations and accusations. Try to understand the argument that others are making.

    Here’s the thing: Yes, costs will go up for some businesses. Everyone knows that. Prices may go up too, but that’s a tradeoff some of us are willing to make. In this country affordable healthcare — that is, the ability to survive a serious illness without diving into bankruptcy — is controlled by private companies who can deny coverage to the people most likely to cost them money. That’s a huge problem. There’s a loophole though — if you work at a company with a healthcare plan, you won’t be denied coverage. It’s a terrible system but it’s what we have right now, so the onus is on businesses to provide this basic service. Businesses that have refused to provide this service for their employees — not all businesses, just ones with over 50 employees, remember — will now have to do so. If their prices go up a bit in order to provide this service, I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is restaurants that don’t offer their employees health coverage.

  • Ninong

    That was a long time ago that the Heritage Foundation supported health care coverage with an Individual Mandate. Way back when Newt Gingrich agreed with them and explained that an Individual Mandate in any health care bill was necessary to get rid of the “free rider” problem.

    That was back when the Heritage Foundation and many prominent conservative Republicans were all for that idea. But then the Democrats started to warm to it, so that made it an evil, Socialist plot. Sort of reminds me of back when George W. Bush wanted an immigration reform bill and he had the full support of people like John McCain and Teddy Kennedy but all those guys — at least half a dozen big-name GOP senators — changed their minds.

    No wonder it was hard on somebody like Mitt Romney to kept adapting his position to whatever he figured would get him elected. Whether it was governor of Massachusetts or Republican nomination for president, Mitt was perfectly willing to flip-flop as many times as necessary as long as people would vote for him.

    P.S. — Remember when John McCain sponsored campaign finance reform? Remember when he voted against both of George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich bills, calling them “unconscionable?” They sort of fell by the wayside, next to his immigration reform proposals. He’s against all that now. When asked, he even said he would vote against the bill that he co-sponsored if it came up for a vote in the Senate again.

  • Ninong

    He’s just one franchisee, who happens to own eight restaurants, which is why he falls into the over-50-employees threshold. He doesn’t speak for the company in any way whatsoever. However, his situation does bring up an important point. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the Obamacare requirements at all. They’re exempt. Some franchisees who do not own as many restaurants as this jerk will have an advantage in that their labor expenses will be lower. Worse still, if they own more than one franchise but employ only 53 or 54 employees, they may decide to cut back to 49 to stay under the threshold. Or they could simply reduce the number of full-time employees so that they have a larger percentage of employees whose weekly hours are less than the definition of full-time employee.

    There are a lot of things messed up about the way Obamacare is set up. All of this points to the fact that the Obama Administration was stupid to not go for a single-payer, Medicare for all type of bill from the beginning. They were even dumber to believe that any of the Republicans would negotiate with them in good faith. Even some of the so-called moderate Republicans weaseled out of their previous public commitments. Obamacare may be better than nothing and it may be a start but it could have been so much better.

    For any health-care law to be fair, it has to cover everybody and not exclude employers with fewer than 50 employees. And it has to be mandatory. Otherwise younger, healthy employees would choose to opt out and not pay their part of the insurance premiums. In Germany, the employee pays half and the employer pays half, sort of the same as our Social Security program, but in Germany it covers Social Security (pensions), unemployment insurance, health coverage and long-term nursing care. The employee’s share ends up being about 15-20% of gross income.

    If we want to get pissed at a corporation, let’s stay pissed at companies like Chick-fil-A, Papa Johns, Target, and the rest of the bigots who oppose equal rights and think even less of providing health care coverage for their employees. I almost forgot Wal-Mart — them, too.

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    Having looked at the facts from here it looks like your values are skewed towards money as an end in itself and against humanity, the public good, national interest, etc.

    Why might that be true or untrue?

    Not a fan of ObamaRomneyDoleChaffeecare but not enthusiastic about being the victim of gangster capitalism and the medical racket either.

  • ComradeRutherford

    “the “star witness” at a political event at the far-right Heritage Foundation on Monday of this week”

    How ironic, since it was the Heritage Foundation that wrote the law in the late 1980s that we now call ‘Obamacare’. Back then their far-right crackpot health care law was so extremist, radically right-wing that everyone that counts knew it to be unConstitutional. Using Big Government to force all Americans to buy health insurance from private for-profit businesses? C’mon, how crazy can a right-winger be?

    But the second Obama latched onto it, the far-right crazies went from it’s biggest proponent to it’s biggest detractor!

    We have always been at war with EastAsia, we have never been at war with Eurasia. Winston Smith is out of a job.

  • slappymagoo

    Or…OR…the franchisees can do what pretty much most of them actually do – keep their pieholes shut about their political beliefs, or religious beliefs or cultural beliefs and serve all the public who opts to enter their business.

    Most of the guys who feel the need to “take a stand against Obamacare” really aren’t doing it because they feel the need to publicly state those beliefs. They’re doing it because, wherever they are, they think there’s a benefit to doing so. In this case, this North Carolina businessman feels comfortable enough that there will be no backlash against his idiocy, and whatever backlash there may be will be counterbalanced by new business from people who think as he does.. To say nothing of the majority of Americans who just don’t pay attention at all and will go to Five Guys if that’s what they’re craving. It’d be great to see a backlash that affects him personally and to see the Five Guys head office dress him down like the people at Denny’s did under similar circumstances. Time will tell, I suppose. But then again, Look at Chik-Fil-A, which is now the go-to fast food joint of gay marriage opponents everywhere. To my knowledge, Cathy’s opinions didn’t
    affect their bottom line all that much.

  • Naja pallida

    The number one difference in the cost and competition in veterinary care versus human health care is the insurance industry. Their procedures and medications are still heavily regulated. They have to have the same level of training, and certification – sometimes more – than any general physician. You don’t seriously think someone just throws up a vet clinic without significant government involvement, do you?

  • UncleBucky

    Just as I can unlike you or a company on FB, the WH or Obama can unlike Five Guys and their crabby friend.

  • UncleBucky

    If that is the case, then as the GOPer has a mouth/front window, so do the “uber-liberal gay-marriage friendly, Obamacare loving franchisees in your neighborhood”. Let them announce their support one way or another. Let’s face it, this is corporate. We can always find a better place to patronize where we know the owner isn’t nuts.

  • UncleBucky

    Oh oh. Well, this is yet another company (franchiser OR franchisee) I don’t have to patronize. And I am sure that others have a list – and friends.

    I really think there needs to be a rogues gallery that can’t be turned into an honors list.

  • Houndentenor

    In most cases the people preparing your food and serving it to you have neither health insurance nor sick days. Think about that for a moment and decide if it wouldn’t be advantageous for you to pay a few cents more per meal so that a person running a fever isn’t coming to work sick and getting you sick too.

  • Apparently businesses aren’t capable of keeping prices down either, considering how much it’d cost me if I broke my leg tomorrow. Seriously, what’s so magical about the private sector? I actually worked for a health insurance firm several years ago and my health coverage still sucked.

  • GoneFishing

    Let me tell you about government controlled healthcare. I lived overseas for many years in a country where a huge chunk of my salary was TAKEN from me towards government healthcare. I had no choice. EVERY year I had to pay more than the year before, and every year LESS healthcare was provided because the government said healthcare is too expensive. You’ll end up paying out of pocket as well, or being denied those services. If you only knew what you were talking about. Government is not a business, and as such, is not capable of keeping prices down. Utopia does not exist.

  • akglow

    I think it says a lot about a country when some of its residents commit a crime, just to be placed in prison, where they’ll receive health care.

  • GoneFishing

    Some people aren’t much for understanding the consequences & realities of passing laws. You wanted it, now you’ll have to come to terms with it. Demonizing businesses for the additional costs, something they are compelled by the new law to comply with, is back-assward. If you weren’t so anti-business, as you appear to be, I’m sure you could OBJECTIVELY research the facts yourself!

  • guest1

    Healthcare for animals is way cheaper, why? More competition, less government involvement.

  • keirmeister

    You Nasty! :)

  • keirmeister

    Healthcare in the U.S. is an affront to our supposed image as a “Beacon of Liberty.” There’s no such thing if you’re worried that one hospital stay will bankrupt you.

    My firm offers health “insurance”, which is really nothing more than an over-priced health subsidy. It’s so bad, they can’t legally offer it in some states. I declined it because I could not understand the concept of spending $900/month for a family plan with a $4,000 deductible, a $25,000 annual max, a $10,000 annual max out of pocket, and only pays 20% for hospitalization. Does that make any LOGICAL sense?!? So we went without – finding low-cost, out-of-pocket alternatives for basic care (thanks CVS and doctor friends).

    …And we’re LUCKY (and healthy). There is no excuse for Americans to have to live like this with regard to health care. Remember, many years ago, when we were debating instituting universal healthcare, and Congress was against it because of the $400 billion price tag? $400 BILLION! Seems so small now compared to everything else we’ve wasted money on.

  • nicho

    I wish I patronized any of those places you mention, so I could boycott them. Got a gift card two years ago for Olive Garden. What a wretched experience! Last time I was in Taco Bell — actually first and last time — my “lunch” was interrupted by the woman at the next table changing her baby’s shitty diaper on top of the table. Ate at Red Lobster once. You’re better off buying frozen fish sticks and eating at home.

  • nicho

    And the facts to back that up? And by “facts,” I don’t mean Fox News talking points.

  • slappymagoo

    But for all you know, there are uber-liberal gay-marriage friendly, Obamacare loving franchisees in your neighborhood, who donate 10% of all profits to the Human Rights Campaign and VoteVets,org, and you’re going to screw the work they do for some yappy a-hole who is perhaps thousands of miles away.

    But if that’s how you feel, why stop with franchisees? Why not punish an organization if ANY of their employees go against your grain?

  • Oh, I agree, which is why I think the responsibility of providing health coverage should be taken away from employers and given to the government.

  • What must an action like this say to the people who work at that franchise? How would you like working for a boss who is evidently so disgusted with the very idea that he has to pay for your labor in the first place that he’s willing to consider sacking you rather than giving you any benefits?

    When the relationship between labor and management is this diseased there’s just no hope.

  • GoneFishing

    Obamacare is not “allegedly” having an adverse impact on business, and by extension, their employees and prices. The problem is real. Being oblivious to the truth is strictly partisanship & idealism. Everyone will be affected by the roll-out and adapting to higher costs brought about by Obamacare.

  • Zorba

    To quote John: “And while it’s all well and good that Five Guys’ corporate office is distancing itself from its GOP satellite in North Carolina, at some point these companies have to be held responsible for their nutty franchises.”
    I agree with him. And before you say that this guy has a right to voice his own opinion, he certainly does. And I have a right to start holding corporations responsible for what their franchisees do.

  • tomtallis

    The burgers are good, but the fries absolutely suck. Swimming in grease.

  • slappymagoo

    Don’t be reactionary. This is one franchisee. The head office put out a statement saying this guy does not speak for the entire chain or all the other franchise owners. If you have other reasons to not go to Five Guys (like say, it’s heart disease on a bun with a side of potato fat), that’s fine. Or if this is your actual neck of the woods, I get that. But if you’re going to stop going to any large business because the actions of one guy who owns one or a few franchises somewhere, where does that stop? If a janitor in the Nome Alaska Five Guys gave to Operation Rescue, are you going to shun the restaurants nationwide?

  • A_nonymoose

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Obama basically put them on the map because he liked their burgers?

  • Zorba

    Well, add that to the list of franchises I’m avoiding.

  • Snaggletooth

    5 guys one cup? …

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