Small Business Owners React to Obama's Health Care Speech
Posted by: John Tozzi on September 10, 2009
I want to hear what small business owners think of President Obama’s speech on health care, and the state of reform as Congress resumes working on it. We’ll try to publish a few reactions from entrepreneurs. Here’s the first.
This is from Kimberley Weatherford, who runs software consulting business Red Eagle Consulting outside Atlanta. When she and her husband started the business, they bought COBRA coverage through a former employer. But shortly after that they had a daughter with heart problems that required surgery. “No insurer would touch her on an individual family policy,” Weatherford writes. “The only way to get her coverage beyond our COBRA period was to start a group policy for our company, so that is what we did.”
Despite her difficulties with the current system, Weatherford is somewhat wary about what a reformed system might look like, and she wants more detail from the president. Here’s her take on Obama’s speech:
I think the President is a wonderful speaker. He has grand ideals and presents them well, but the devil is in the detail. The details that I’m aware of in the currently proposed bills don’t necessarily support the sweeping statements he delivered. For example, the speech contains a statement that no one will be required to change their current coverage, but it ignores the fact that currently proposed changes will most definitely impact the cost of the current plans, defining what coverage we’re allowed to buy and mandating taxes on insurers. As a small business owner, I may not be REQUIRED to make a change, but the financial impact of the reforms may REQUIRE that I make a change.
Since the government makes the rules, the government option cannot reasonably be considered a fair competitor to private insurance. Would anyone think it reasonable to let Aetna or Blue Cross make the rules for everyone? It’s also interesting to note that the current methods by which Medicare rates are negotiated with providers are alleged to actually create a rise in non-Medicare costs for private insurers and the uninsured.
On the other hand, the President talked about reducing waste, exploring tort reform, and preventing fraud. These are more well-suited for the stated goal of reducing health care costs as opposed to current bills for reforming insurance. Again, however, we were given no detail as to how these goals might be achieved.