Restaurant owner tries to work with Obamacare

It's going to be a tough road for one Jimmy John's franchise owner, but he's trying to plan for it and figure out a way.

By Kim Peterson Nov 28, 2012 3:02PM
Image: Medical doctor (tetra images/Getty Images/Getty Images)Restaurant owners are spitting mad about what implementing Obamacare will do to their already thin margins.

One Denny's franchisee threatened a 5% surcharge on meals, and suggested that customers could tip less. An Applebee's franchisee threatened to cut worker hours. Papa John's (PZZA) founder, John Schnatter, threatened to raise the cost of a pizza by as much as 14 cents and said he would "find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs."

So perhaps it is newsworthy, then, that one restaurant owner is simply going to try to make Obamacare work.

The Nebraska owner of 18 Jimmy John's franchises says he's going to figure out how to give his employees health care. "I'm trying to save for it and plan for it so I can comply with the government, provide health care and still pay for it," Dean Hodges said in an email to the Huffington Post.

Already, 38 of Hodges' 550 employees receive health care benefits because they are full-time employees. You can only get those benefits after working full-time for six months, and so another eight or nine workers will become eligible next year, the Post reports.

But the Affordable Care Act considers an employee working 30 or more hours a week a "full-time equivalent." Restaurants will have to insure them or pay them more so they can buy their own health insurance.

For Hodges, that means 150 more employees will be considered full time. And that's a huge new expense for his business. He told the Huffington Post that those 150 employees would add some $500,000 in premiums, making 10 of his 18 stores unprofitable.

This is a very tight spot to be in. But kudos for Hodges for talking about it rationally and showing exactly what he's dealing with under Obamacare. He's trying to do the right thing by his employees, but he's got a tough road ahead.

"We're not cold people who don't want to insure people," he told the Huffington Post. "It's not a nasty greediness on our part. But if I'm unprofitable I can't go on, I can't exist and I can't employ anyone."

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Tags: Food
Nov 28, 2012 5:14PM
Obamacare will bankrupt many thousands of small businesses when it is fully implemented. The so-called rich will be making far less, but far more poor people will be without jobs. Obama's policies will reduce the income gap between the rich and poor, but the income level of the poor will remain the same as it has remained the same ever since LBJ's War on Poverty. Seven trillion has been spent on the welfare system for the poor, and not a thing has changed.
Nov 28, 2012 5:10PM

Jimmy John's corporate citizenship (if sincere) is to be applauded and such companies deserve government help (if needed) and cooperation to make the ACA a reality " Let them go bankrupt" should apply to sweat shop operations when they fail to work within the spirit and intent of the law. Good corporations will step in to fill the void to the profit of employer, employee and country.



Nov 28, 2012 5:09PM
Almost all of you are a little late to the polls.
Nov 28, 2012 5:04PM
Amazing how many businesses will go under because of this or lose profitability which will force employers to do away with or cut annual raises and bonuses. In the long run this is not good for anyone. The people who will feel it the most are the employees getting coverage for $100-$500 per month now through the employer when the employer cancels all the coverage and pays the fine because it's the cheaper way out. Its the only way they'll be able to stay in business.  The employees will have to purchase the insurance on their own which will cost on average 5X what they pay today. For me I was paying about 450 per month (family of 5) through employer and left that job to be an independant consultant and the cost went up to 950.  Since Obamacare was introduced, even though not in full effect yet, my premiums are now over 1800 per month.  Its like having a second mortgage.  Not to mention that my income tax dependant deductions are being reduced from $1000 to $500.  Obamacare, high forclosure rates, high poverty rates, high unemployment rates, high crime rates...coincidence...I think not.  My only question right now is does Vegas have a line on an Obama impeachment.  I may want a piece of that action.
Nov 28, 2012 5:04PM
When Obama locks your sorry butt up for not complying with Health Care you will be covered. He is coming after the poor first and then he will work his way up. There will be regional gulags where everyone works on Obama's Plantation. And they will be made too sing old time spiritual songs. He has not had his revenge yet but it is coming. You gonna sing or you gettin no suppa!!
Nov 28, 2012 5:02PM
Where does it end? Force the business to provide free healthcare, make the business pay more taxes at fed and state and county and city levels. Govt employees great pay, great healthcare and no job loss. No more business, where does the money come from to pay for the freebies? Liberal CA spending like there is no future problems, but prop 30 took care of that for now. Rosy picture for all state employees. Wait a minute, what happens if business leaves the state ? Too expensive to do business here, more unemployed and no tax base.... Now what???? 
Nov 28, 2012 4:58PM
give 49% of the business to the employees on a lease purchase agreement and let them deal with it. if it flops come in,  buy them out,  and start all over with a lean staff.  if it works just sit back and collect 51% of the profits.
Nov 28, 2012 4:58PM
I for one would be willing to pay an extra 14 cents for a pizza.....If i can afford $10 or $15 for a pizza, I can afford 14 more cents..................
Nov 28, 2012 4:54PM
Good for him for deciding to put forth the effort of insuring all of his employees.  I think more people should stop complaining and try to do the right thing.  Those who have insurance need to think about what if one day they don't.  I'm sure they would want some help then.  What happened to wanting to help your fellow man?  I think more people should try to come together to solve problems instead of making them worse or creating new ones.
Nov 28, 2012 4:46PM
Brutisbear5, can you just secede (learn to spell!) on you own?  Somalia has no tax, no laws, and everyone is free.  Move there.
Nov 28, 2012 4:45PM
**** the health care plan i cant afford 500 rent and food, i have been unemployed for 3 years so if i have to have insurance let the govt. pay for it.  last time i filed taxes i had to pay $27,349.00 that should cover me for years
Nov 28, 2012 4:44PM
And his estimate of $500,000 is BEFORE Obamacare hits and makes premiums unaffordable for all those who are NOT on any kind of government assistance!

Before:  you had a job but no healthcare


Now:  you have no job but you have healthcare


Which is worse?

Nov 28, 2012 4:27PM
Close the business and tell obama to pay their unemployement. Start taxing all the rap stars and athletes 70% of their income also. Obama is rich why is he getting a pay check at all? Everything in his life is paid for, why don't he start helping us poor folks out?
Nov 28, 2012 4:27PM
ObamaCare Suck and will be the death and destruction of many American Business'
Nov 28, 2012 4:23PM
Kudo's for Hodges TRYING, but as he said "We're not cold people who don't want to insure people," he told the Huffington Post. "It's not a nasty greediness on our part. But if I'm unprofitable I can't go on, I can't exist and I can't employ anyone." So welcome to Bo-Dumbo-Care, only a $500,000.00 new expense.!
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