Main Street Speaks

Great write from a small business owner on how health care reform will help him:

We got a letter earlier this month from our company health-insurance provider, informing us that our policy had been canceled for late payment of the premium. No warning or notice, just a cancellation letter. After lots of begging and pleading, a $3,700 check, and four days of heartburn for yours truly, we got it reinstated.

I suspected that the real reason for the cancellation was that we had the audacity to actually file some significant claims. The policy has a $5,000 deductible, but I had an appendectomy last year (about $18,000) and a few other claims as well. The insurance company assured us that this was not the case: Lots of small businesses had gotten cancellation notices, because lots of companies are falling behind on their premiums in this economy and the insurance company is cracking down.

Somehow I didn’t find that very reassuring. On the contrary, this incident reinforced my strong conviction that the idea that health care reform isn’t good for small businesses is arrant nonsense. If there is one thing the federal government can do to help my company, health care reform is it.

Consider the position we’re in with the above-mentioned incident. Unlike almost anything else we buy, health insurance is not something we can simply get from another vendor. In writing policies, insurance companies require that you have continuous coverage, or else they will exclude coverage for all pre-existing conditions (which when you get to be my age can be a lot of things). Thus cancellation of the policy would have permanently undermined our ability to get insurance.

I’m not saying we should be able to pay late with impunity. But a system in which we are subject to the shifting policies of an all-but-unregulated private insurance company that effectively has the power to deny our ability to get coverage anywhere is absurd.

Further, I had to spend several days sweating this issue, working with our office manager to fix it, trying to decide whether to tell people about the problem or wait until we got it resolved. This was time and energy not spent on anything having to do with what NewWest.Net is in business to do.

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