Small Businesses Share Healthcare Concerns At New Jersey Roundtable Event

            On Friday, June 19, I attended a healthcare roundtable at F3 Engineering, a small, women-owned manufacturing facility in Paterson, NJ, to discuss with women-owned firms the state of health insurance in the small business world. 

 

            The roundtable featured SBA Administrator Karen Mills and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and drew more than 50 business owners and employees came from all over New Jersey, as well as New York and Pennsylvania, to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas for the future.  

 

            Administrator Mills opened the meeting by expressing to attendees that she and the President are aware that the costs of both healthcare and health insurance are increasing.  She also addressed the concern that small business owners do not have access to affordable health insurance plans for their employees.  Administrator Mills noted that every year more small businesses are no longer able to continue to provide coverage for their employees because of rising costs.

 

            Secretary Sebelius discussed her background in the health insurance industry as a former State Insurance Agency head for the state of Kansas.  She stated that as a nation we pay $2 trillion per year for healthcare related costs and that nearly 47 million people are without health insurance.  She told the audience how she is working closely with the President to find solutions that will make health insurance available and affordable for small business and that cost is the major aspect of the President’s reform efforts.

 

            Many of the business owners shared their stories and anecdotes of high deductibles, coverage and procedure denial, and fighting unexplained bills for procedures.  A common theme among the owners was that they have to spend significant time annually researching new policies for their employees in an effort to keep the costs from escalating too rapidly.  Although some expressed regret for having to pass costs on to employees as the policies have become too expensive, I heard a united voice in that these small business owners felt it was a necessity for their business to remain competitive to offer affordable health insurance to the backbone of their businesses, their employees.

 

 

–Christine Glassner, Region II Advocate

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