Remember when we were told that Obamacare was going to make health insurance and health care more affordable and accessible?
Yeah, about that:
Our company, CKE Restaurants Inc., employs about 21,000 people (our franchisees employ 49,000 more) in Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants. For months, we have been working with Mercer Health & Benefits LLC, our health-care consultant, to identify Obamacare’s potential financial impact on CKE. Mercer estimated that when the law is fully implemented our health-care costs will increase about $18 million a year. That would put our total health-care costs at $29.8 million, a 150 percent increase from the roughly $12 million we spent last year.
The money to cover our increased expenses will have to come from somewhere. We are a profitable company and, after paying our obligations, we reinvest our earnings in the business. Reinvesting in the business is how we grow, create jobs and opportunity. This is true for most U.S. businesses.
To offset higher health-care expenses, we will have to cut spending on new restaurant construction, one of our largest discretionary spending areas. But building new restaurants is how we create jobs. An $18 million increase in our costs would more than consume the $8.8 million we spent on new restaurant construction last year, leaving nothing for growth. We will also need to reduce our general capital spending, which also creates jobs and allows us to improve our infrastructure and maintain our business. In summary, our ability to create new jobs could vanish.
Just like Romneycare drove up health care costs in Massachusetts, Obamacare is driving up health care costs in America and, in doing so, hurting the economy.