Political  Calculations

We said that there was more to the story of Trader Joe's decision to dump its part-time employees into ObamaCare, and there is. What follows is our analysis of the statement that Trader Joe's provided to the Washington Post's Wonkblog over a week and a half ago, for which we're apparently the first media organization to produce any sort of serious analysis. We'll start at the top:

Thank you for writing to us. It's possible you have been misled, at least to some degree, by the headlines in some articles regarding our reasons for implementing the [Affordable Care Act] in January. We'd like to take this opportunity to clarify some facts.

For over 77% of our Crew Members there is absolutely no change to their healthcare coverage provided by Trader Joe's.

In January 2012, Trader Joe's was estimated to have approximately 5,500 employees nationwide, working at 365 stores, with half of these situated in the state of California. Today, we would estimate that figure is over 5,700, as the privately-held grocery store chain now has at least 380 locations.

According to the company's statement, of those estimated 5,700 employees, 23% are part-time employees that Trader Joe's will drop from their employer-provided health insurance program, which works out to be over 1,300 employees that will be affected by the change.

The ACA brings a new potential player into the arena for the acquisition of health care. Stated quite simply, the law is centered on providing low cost options to people who do not make a lot of money. Somewhat by definition, the law provides those people a pretty good deal for insurance ... a deal that can't be matched by us -- or any company. However, an individual employee (we call them Crew Member) is only able to receive the tax credit from the exchanges under the act if we do not offer them insurance under our company plan.

Political Calculations

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