The ACA and small business woes

By Eric Greene

January 1, 2014 Updated Jan 2, 2014 at 12:23 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- New Year's Day marked the first day of insurance coverage for people who enrolled in Obamacare before Christmas Eve.

Approximately 975,000 Americans signed up last month alone through the rehabilitated government website. However, a lot of people, including those at small businesses, still face confusion and uncertainty over their health coverage.

Forty employees of Extreme Dodge in Michigan just came face to face with the new realities of healthcare, and most do not like what they see. One worker asks, "How is this helping the average American that's working 40 to 50 hours per week? How are we supposed to live?"

At the dealership's annual benefits meeting, the staff was told their current insurance was canceled because it doesn't comply with the new health care law and that the dealership had decided to take things in a new direction.

Instead of providing a company health plan as it has for 35 years, the business now will give each worker $2,400 to buy insurance or spend on something else.

The owner, Wesley Lutz, says the $2,400 is slightly more than the company spent per worker on health insurance this year, adding that the change is to control future costs.

"As a business owner, we have to be viable first and then provide services." Lutz said.

A handful of employees came out winners. Most of them are low income workers who can get insurance for very little through the new government healthcare exchange.

Others make a little too much for a government subsidy and will use the $2,400 from the company to buy a group plan it has recommended.

However, under that new group plan, they face much higher out of pocket costs. For example, they're deductible will jump by nearly two-thousand dollars. And for families, those numbers double.

A veteran mechanic said he'd hoped the new law would help his family. Now, he's upset. "The days of low deductibles and all that stuff are gone. It's not going to get any better, it's just going to get worse. "

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