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Full-Time to Food Stamps: Obamacare Hits The College Student

College students across the nation share with The College Fix how Obamacare has already hurt their bottom line – long before the new health care mandate even takes effect.

When Mary Porter enrolled last year at East Central Community College in Rolla, Mo., she landed a job at a fast-food restaurant and worked full-time for minimum wage to pay the bills. Things were looking up for the budding college student, who had grown up a ward of the state’s foster care system.

But earlier this year, Porter’s hours were cut. Her employer cited the Affordable Care Act as the reason, she told The College Fix.

“Then they told us that they couldn’t afford to pay us health insurance,” said Porter, 22, who is no longer allowed to work more than 25 hours a week.

“Everybody was upset, and they still are upset. All the students I know are talking about it. I am working so hard in my job, but I have to go to the government, although I don’t want to. I got on food stamps because I couldn’t afford to eat.”

A “hiring” sign still hangs in front of the sandwich shop where Porter works, though she begs every week for extra hours.

“I thought food stamps were for people who don’t have jobs, but I have a job and I bust my butt everyday, and I have to have food stamps,” she said.

Porter joins a growing number of students who face reduced hours and a cut in income as a result of the new healthcare law, a.k.a. Obamacare. While the law has not gone into full effect, businesses of all sizes and industries, from Sea World to Trader Joe’s to Home Depot, have begun to restructure in anticipation of the new legal climate. According to a report last week from Investor’s Business Daily, more than 300 employers have already cut employee hours or begun to phase out full-time staff.

Additionally, U.S. Labor Department data indicates that workers in low-wage industries, such as those jobs frequented by students, clocked shorter than ever workweeks over the summer.

Spenser Kniep is one such student.

In January, 21-year-old Kniep was a newly married sophomore at Butler Community College near Wichita, Kansas. In addition to his school load, he worked 30 hours a week for Subway. Then his store announced that due to the pending health insurance mandate, all non-managers would be capped at 15 hours weekly.

“It was really hard,” his wife, Amara Kniep, also 21, told The Fix. “That’s a huge pay cut. We live in an apartment and rent is our biggest expense. All of a sudden, my husband went to making $100 a week. But they were still hiring.”

Kniep opted to leave school. Three months after the part-time cut, he became one of the fortunate ones: he found full-time employment as a property inspection subcontractor. As for health insurance, Kniep can stay on his parents’ policy until he reaches 26. His wife, however, a student at Wichita State who works part-time for a non-profit, is not insured.

“At least for me, it’s not going to be worth it,” she told The Fix about signing up for government-subsidized health insurance. “Based on what I know about Obamacare, I think it is going to be a detriment to our society.”

“I’ve taken several economics courses during college and found nothing to support the theory that it will improve our economy. The law is going to bring about large setbacks to many families and businesses. Obviously, many people will have to start working multiple jobs if companies are trying so hard to cut down their full-time staff.”

Meanwhile, confusion about upcoming changes in healthcare law continues.

According to an August report from the Commonwealth Fund, just 1 in 4 young adults are aware of the health insurance exchanges open Oct. 1. The Obama administration is marketing the new coverage options persistently: their campaign includes a video contest with the goal of recruiting young people to purchase health insurance.

Whether the campaign is successful remains to be seen.

Emily Klug, 22, a psychology and sociology major at the College of the Ozarks in Branson, Mo., is another Obamacare victim.

Klug’s university offered her a work-study program over the summer, which she turned down in order to accept a full-time summer job for a national retailer. This would have allowed her to pay for the coming year of college, as well as save for grad school. Shortly thereafter, Klug learned that her employer had modified their policies: she would only be allowed to work part-time.

“Their maximum limit happened to be the same one as the Obamacare classification for full-time,” she told The Fix.

She spent the summer working 20 to 25 hours weekly, unable to save for grad school.

“I’m not happy with it,” Klug added, regarding the Affordable Care Act. “I feel that it’s unconstitutional, and an infringement on my rights. I’m not looking forward to either buying insurance or paying the fine. I will probably be paying the fine. It’s my personal choice. That’s what I object to most in Obamacare – my personal choice is removed.”

In Rolla, Porter celebrated one year of independence from custody this summer, but she worries constantly about the future. Just coming off a shift at work, she spoke with The Fix about her childhood in foster homes and her plans for higher education.

She wants to become a teacher herself, but is frustrated with her options and doesn’t see a way to get off food stamps. According to a study this month by Investor’s Business Daily, 80 school districts have confirmed that Obamacare prompted recent cuts in the hours of school district employees.

“They’re shutting all the businesses down,” Porter said. “I want to make the most of myself. But all the people are having to rely on the government. We are a free people, we want to earn money. I don’t think it’s right.”

“Who wants to sit at home and get a check from the government every month? I don’t. We talk about political stuff a lot at work, but nobody knows what to do – what can we do? It’s the government, we can’t do anything. And it’s getting worse.”

Fix contributor Sarah Greek – Thomas Edison State College.

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Add to the Discussion

  • Great report, Raffi! I hope word will get around and the young college crowd will step forward regardless of the resistance they will be confronted with by their professors and staff! The above facts need to get out…and fast!

  • Stagester

    Its ironic that most of these people were the ones that swept Obama in office in the first place. While I don’t rejoice at anyone’s suffering, it is sort of warming to see the ones who failed to inform themselves of the communist they were electing now receiving the brunt of the punishment.

    • RMcG

      Try being one of “them” that DIDN’T vote him in to office… There is nothing more infuriating than being a “voice in the wilderness” with an entire generation of complete ignoramuses with as much foresight and concept of personal responsibility as a fruit-fly.

      I fear that hey still won’t understand what is going on, and will again go on with what they were programmed to do:

      Blame Bush.

      • Stagester

        @RMcG I certainly commensurate with you. I live in the Pacific NW and I’m probably the only one I know including my wife’s family that didn’t vote for him. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • kporqueria

    Enjoy your misery college kids. YOU voted for Obama twice by overwhelming margins. Now suffer the consequences. You were warned that this would happen but you voted for Obama anyway. Suck it up and live with it. You got what you deserved. I have no sympathy for your plight.

    • Guest

      Your comment is just ridiculous. There are many college students that did NOT vote for Obama. I did not. I doubt any of the people featured in the article did, either.

      • kporqueria

        Obama got over 60% of the college age vote so chances are they did vote for him.

        • Cyberguy64

          Welp, I’m college age now, and I most certainly didn’t. So, yeah. Thanks for your generalization. You’re everything the Left thinks we are.

          • kporqueria

            Did I say 100% voted for him? Obviously not. Its not a generalization to observe the statistical facts of college age voting paterns. You are in the minority and are made to suffer due to the actions of your peers. That sucks for you, but as a group I have no sympathy for the sob stories. You reap what you sow.

  • EndlessSummer

    The point that all this misery-guts coverage is missing is the strategic end-game behind Obamacare: This wretched “train wreck” is working EXACTLY as it was meant to do. The point of Obamacare was not to have a workable intermediary health system that was neither fully free-market nor fully nationalized. The point was PRECISELY to destroy our high-functioning system & to create in its wake such widespread economic havoc & immiseration of millions of Americans that they would be CLAMORING for single-payer socialized healthcare fully delivered by the government. That is the direction in which all these ignorant Obama supporters will go. They are too indoctrinated, PC, & willfully blind to evidence-based reasoning to determine it is time to stop trusting their Dear Leader (and their college professors). Eyes Wide Open: Phase II of the Obamacare roll-out will be Democrat “leadership” responding to the hew & cry of widespread suffering to masterfully “fix” Obamacare by creating a fully national socialized medical system. Quelle surprise!

  • GradStu

    Obviously any college students who voted for Obama hadn’t taken a political science class. As a grad student I’m going on food stamps until… well, we’ll see with this economy.

  • Lucky Scrunchy

    Unfortunately….too many want to “sit at home and collect a govt check”, that’s the problem. Of the many many sins this nation commits, sloth is a huge one.

  • markc2954

    You can do something! Join a local TEA party organization or create your own.
    Constitutional Conservatism it is the only thing to save us from tyranny.

  • cristo52

    Sometimes you get what you vote for – like fundamental change . . .

    • Ernie kaputnik

      Absolutely spot on! They were naïve enough to believe that Barry would give them unicorns, puppies, butterflies and rainbows. History repeats itself. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot and the Ayatollahs promised the same things but brought nothing but pain, suffering, poverty and death to millions. Barry’s doing the same thing but only much more slowly. Idiots.

  • Ernie kaputnik

    Welcome to Obama’s America, Young Lady. If you voted for Barry, you only have yourself to blame. Sorry, but I have no tears for you. I’ve already shed them all for our dying nation.

  • trilsys

    These stories don’t make much sense. I’m sure they think this is what is happening to them, but it isn’t. First, Obamacare has absolutely no effect on businesses with less than 50 employees. None whatsoever. For larger employers, the full time definition is 30 hours per week, not 15. If their hours were cut to 15, it was for some reason other than Obamacare. Some employers are cutting the insurance programs they offer, but that is because their employees can get better coverage cheaper through the exchanges. Also, all of these people are young enough that they can be covered on their parents healthcare at no cost to them. Obamacare requires that children be covered on their parents policy until age 26, so these kids have nothing to worry about anyhow. And last, even if they have to get their own insurance, they earn little enough that they would get subsidies on the insurance they purchase so that the net cost to them would be at or near zero.

    Also, the Obamacare mandate doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2014. Anything employers are doing now has nothing to do with Obamacare.

    No one objects to being required to have insurance for their cars. This is the same thing. By allowing access to regular health services, it will keep people from showing up for the first time in the ER. And those visits get paid from our tax dollars.

    And sorry to bring this up, but in spite the sign-up snafus, Obamacare IS working. Kids stay on their parents insurance, you can’t be refused for pre-existing conditions, insurance plans on the exchanges cost hundreds of dollars less than previously, and for the first time in 40 years, the cost of health care has stopped rising. And it will only get better as more people get covered.

    • Mack Kearney

      Unlike the government that takes years to implement a program businesses react to upcoming changes before they happen and plan for the consequences. You want to get people to show up at clinics rather than the ER make them pay a % of the visit even if there gov. check or food stamp accounts get charged. The decision then becomes easy 20% of 1200 or 2o% of 85.

  • Puppyme1

    I can’t believe that I was duped into believing Obama would help us College students. Boy, I learned a BIG lesson!!!