Categorized | Publisher's Letter

The ticking time bomb of healthcare insurance

Healthcare continues to be top of mind with business owners we communicate with. At our last workshop about how to spot entrepreneurial opportunities around our recent healthcare legislation, we had a record attendance.

Since that time, we had a game changing election that certainly adds to the uncertainty—at least in the short term. While few would debate our old healthcare system was unsustainable, how to fix it will be a debate that will rage on for a long time.

In the meantime, small businesses have had to make difficult choices.

I had a conversation recently with an entrepreneur that deeply cares for his employees and puts their interests ahead of his own. His most faithful have been with the company for nearly 20 years.

We spoke about how he was forced into a decision to drop ALL healthcare benefits for his crew. He hung his head in disappointment as he struggled to get the words out, visibly distraught. Unfortunately, I have heard this story before.

While the decision was not surprising, the employees’ reaction was. One by one they entered his office and offered their support and understanding. “I kept it going as long as I could,” he said. “They responded, ‘We understand and appreciate the coverage all these years. We are not going anywhere, we are a team.’”

They knew the pain and internal struggle he was having as it was written all over his face. The story left my jaw on the ground. Not the outcome I would have expected, but it only goes to show how much respect they have for one another.

Now, the employees were left to get individual coverage. Unfortunately, more than one didn’t qualify and were left uninsured. To make matters worse, one employee was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease around this same time. Certainly, this was a terrible situation for everyone and it made for a difficult work environment.

I didn’t know what to say, but did the best I could to offer some solutions with companies that fill this niche with stopgap solutions—but it was little consolation. He was conflicted and wanted to do what he felt was right for his employees, but he was out of real options—a difficult dilemma for sure.

At our last conversation, there was some good news. He told me due to savings with other management decisions, he was again able to offer insurance to his employees, but this time, the company was only paying a portion of the premium. While this temporarily solves the problem, it is not a long-term solution. The premiums keep going up.

As the national discussion continues, let’s hope our politicians can come up with a program we all can live with, before it is too late for our small businesses and those who depend on them.

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