Obamacare Small Business Nightmare
I’m a small business owner. Not the $250k a year one like Joe the Plumber but one considerately more modest and a lot more common. I’m also a Democrat. I believe in universal health care and a single payer system... and I hate Obamacare. Like most Americans I have spent my life, for the most part, only marginally affected by anything the government actually does. Not anymore. I like Obama but he sold out the small business community for a handful of insurance policies. I wonder if he had any idea of what he was doing. When he campaigned for president and said he wanted to be the dumbest guy in the room I didn’t think he really meant it. When he compromised on universal health care to gain the support of the health insurance companies the insurers must have been hyperventilating on their amazing good fortune. In exchange for silence, the government guaranteed an entire new generation of customers and a rising tide of premiums.
Now, small businesses are dealing with the fallout and being tossed about in the breakers. My small business provides a basic HMO health plan (from EmblemHealth) for my employees. HMOs have primary physicians from which you have to get a referral to see a specialist. Employees can also choose a considerably pricier EPO plan but they have to contribute to make up the difference. EPOs allow you to see specialists without the referral. I renew the insurance annually in June and thought we would be fine until next June when we would have to deal with whatever the new landscape offered. After all, the President promised that if I liked my health care plan I could keep it. Needless to say, Emblem cancelled our coverage on December 31st and graciously offered an HMO plan at the EPO price (with higher copays and costlier hospitalization). So much for competition in the health care marketplace. Oh, and by the way, the network is a lot smaller so the insurer can control the costs more effectively by limiting access to providers, thereby forcing you into higher priced plans to see the same doctors you were seeing before.
Of course, they now have a whole new range of confusing plans with “deductibles” in the $600-$4000 range. Real good premiums but who’s going to see a doctor if you have to pay the deductible before the insurance kicks in. We believe health care is part of the social contract, so we don’t want to be economically forced to give up providing the benefit. I wonder who the people are that Obamacare is going to help. Not my business, not my family, not my employees and probably not you.
Sanford Bernstein is the General Manager and partner in The Wave newspaper.