Old McDonald’s has a health insurance policy-and, indeed, the fast-food giant was unlike many restaurants in providing coverage for hourly workers.

Here, as described in the Wall Street Journal, is the current system:

McDonald’s provides mini-med plans for workers at 10,500 U.S. locations, most of them franchised. A single worker can pay $14 a week for a plan that caps annual benefits at $2,000, or about $32 a week to get coverage up to $10,000 a year.

A mini-plan is not a Cadillac plan but it does offer a degree of coverage to workers who might otherwise lack insurance. It probably means that policy holders are willing to go to the doctor earlier in the course of a medical problem.  These plans were created out of an amalgam of market reality and human needs. They are realistic rather than utopian.

But McDonald’s has just announced that because of the regulations in the new health care legislation they will drop plans for about 30,000 hourly workers. Hey, I thought the reforms in those 2,000 unread pages of legislation were going to make life better for people like those who work at McDonald’s!

The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers’ health plans as the law ripples through the real world.

Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn’t loosen a requirement for “mini-med” plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans. …

McDonald’s, in a memo to federal officials, said “it would be economically prohibitive for our carrier to continue offering” the mini-med plan unless it got an exemption from the requirement to spend 80% to 85% of premiums on benefits. Officials said McDonald’s would probably have to hit the 85% figure, which applies to larger group plans. Its insurer, BCS Insurance Group of Oak Brook Terrace, Ill., declined to comment.

Reaching the 80 percent requirement is difficult because administrative work for mini-plans is heavy. The reason? Corporate greed? No, it’s simply that there is a lot of turn-over with hourly workers. It is rumored that you can read the entire bill and not find any cognizance of such economic realities.

There is a good chart of what holders of these mini-plans could get in benefits (all of the cost of a doctor visit after a $20 co pay, for example). Having such benefits is potentially life-changing.

So it not having them.