View Full Version : For Many Small Business Owners, Health Care System Is "sicko"

07-24-2007, 11:44 PM
Posted: Monday, July 23, 2007 1:09 PM by Eve Tahmincioglu
Categories: Health care, Work/life balance, Starting up, Entrepreneurship
I recently saw Michael Moore’s health care tragedy film “Sicko” and it got me thinking: What about a "Sicko" just about small business owners?

There’s a scene where Moore takes former 9/11 rescue workers, who can’t afford U.S. medical care, on a small boat to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His mission, albeit a futile one, is to get those poor ailing workers the same care now given to suspected Al Qaeda prisoners at the facility.

Moore should have taken along a boatload of entrepreneurs with him. Actually, he would have needed a cruise ship, maybe 10.

We all think of lack of health care coverage as a problem for the poor and unemployed, but small business owners are also drowning in this nation’s medical black hole.

I figured I had to write my first blog entry about the one issue that is at the top of all your lists – health care. Over and over again, in study after study, small business owners say it’s health care stupid, and it’s TOO @%$#&* EXPENSIVE!

Entrepreneurs and small business operators are beginning to sound like broken records, at least to politicians and the whole health-care industry. Maybe everyone is just “sicko” of them. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

The National Federation of Independent Business, a small biz advocacy group you should know about if you don’t already, keeps asking company owners and they keeps getting the same answer.

From the NFIB’s latest health care survey:

“Once again small-business owners overwhelmingly voiced the need for Congress to address ever-rising health insurance costs,” said William Dennis, senior research fellow with the NFIB. “A difference in top priorities appears between Congress and America’s small-business owners. One is primarily interested in coverage and the other cost. If lawmakers can help reduce costs, small businesses can help increase coverage in the long-run.”

Everyone talks about how small business is the engine that drives the economy, but many firms sputter out when their engines are fouled by high health care costs.

There’s a host of reasons:
They can’t leave their corporate jobs to launch a business because they can’t afford to buy healthcare on their own;
They took the plunge, started a firm, but now realize the escalating cost of health care coverage may send them back to working for The Man;
Or they go without coverage, holding their breath that an illness doesn’t send them to the poor house.

Many of the many presidential candidates say they have their plan for saving the health care system. But for those of you who can’t wait that long for change, if it ever comes, check out what’s happening in your own state. Many states are now offering opportunities for small business owners to buy into high-risk pools that provide cut-rate plans for people with dreaded pre-existing conditions. Check your state’s insurance department to find out what’s available.

And don’t forget to contact your local chamber of commerce, which may offer group insurance plans. A bigger group should mean you have to shell out less money.

But none of these things are a panacea for the deeply “sicko” system.

One entrepreneur I spoke with recently told me her high cholesterol and the fact that her husband had smoked in the distant past made them pariahs to health insurers. They couldn’t even get a policy unless they dished out thousands a month, and that was only for catastrophic care. Forget about getting coverage for routine doctor visits.

“We live in constant fear,” she says about getting sick.

This is definitely movie fodder -- horror movie fodder.