The Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concerned a waiver of the so-called medical loss ratio regulation mandating that insurers spend at least 80% to 85% of premium revenue on medical care by 2011. McDonald’s said its insurer won’t meet the deadline and that it may have to drop coverage for some employees, according to the newspaper.
A company spokeswoman denied the Journal claim in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’re not going to walk away from health-care insurance completely, but we’re going to have to look for alternatives if we can’t get the resolution we’re seeking from Health and Human Services,” Danya Proud told Bloomberg. She declined to give Bloomberg a copy of the company’s HHS memo and indicated McDonald’s doesn’t have an estimate of how many workers would be affected if it had to change its insurance program.
The company posted a formal response to the Journal article on its Web site here.
Jessica Santillo, an HHS spokeswoman, also denied the Wall Street Journal report. “The new law provides significant flexibility to maintain coverage for workers,” Santillo said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg. “Guidance on the new medical loss ratio rules has not even been issued.”
Federal regulators recently issued guidance on how “limited benefit” or “mini-med” health care plans can apply for waivers from rules restricting and then banning essential benefit limits (see HHS Releases Annual Health Coverage Limit Waiver Guidance).