Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Westin Hotel on Beale Street in Memphis, TN to over 50 business owners from across the country specializing in custom doors and hardware, glass. They are the “average” American businesses being challenged by the law. This is not because they are not playing by the rules because many of them are offering quite generous plans. Traveling all over the country to speak to companies and their employees has caused me to understand their frustration.
The true problem is they are spending precious time trying to figure out the healthcare reform law’s impact and then having to answer questions from confused employees instead of focusing on growing their business. The cabinetmaker wants to focus on making cabinets and know he is going to be ok, not learn a law that exceeds 20,000 pages in regulation and still being written by unknown people.
Businesses also want to know what their options are and what they should do but instead they are operating with uncertainty because Congress cannot lead by example and provide an idea of where the country is going. It is an easy fix. By Congress passing a budget and using regular order the market at least knows that their government is not going to “shut down.” Remember, it all starts at the top.
The bigger problem facing business is the fact that healthcare costs are squeezing their profit margin. The true concern for many is how the small group market will be able to handle all of the changes that will drive up their rates. The question becomes, how long can they absorb this rising cost before dropping group coverage? Even worse, what if the exchange turns out to be bad deal, does that place a higher value on maintaining that plan, and if so, can they get it back?
What I Learned
The bottom line is businesses in all industries all over the country are trying to figure out how this law applies to them and many of them are seeing exorbitant cost increases on their health insurance premiums. The President has said two things that are not true. First, “if you like your plan you can keep it.” This will not be the case. The second is that “95% of businesses are not seeing an impact under this law.” I can comfortably say after being to Florida, California and Tennessee that this is also not accurate.
One of the coolest things that I saw in Memphis was the St. Jude Children’s hospital. Did you know that if you cannot afford to pay they will treat you. They operate on a pay what you can mentality and the remainder is picked up by a charitable foundation. You may recall a contestant on the Celebrity Apprentice playing for the hospital. Perhaps we should consider this more in reforming healthcare delivery. There are plenty of people looking to store their money somewhere, how about in places that promote healthcare innovation and focus on solving this looming healthcare problem in America.
Share your thoughts with me every Saturday morning on my radio program America’s Healthcare Challenge. It is the most listened to radio program on the Affordable Care Act and airs every Saturday at 9 AM Central on 1290 KOIL Omaha. Listen to the latest program below.