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Healthcare For Arizona Small Businesses: Where Do They Go From Here?

Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 6:03pm
Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 6:14pm
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The day after Donald Trump won the presidential race, more than 100,000 people signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. That’s the most of any day since open enrollment began, according to the Obama administration.

But, the rising costs of buying health insurance on the marketplace, with fewer providers offering it, has put many — including small businesses — in a tough spot.

Many small businesses are “priced pretty much out of the market” right now, according Carol Mangen, director of member benefits with the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA).

The ASBA was originally founded in order to provide group health insurance plans to their members, Mangen said. But, when the Affordable Care Act passed, Cigna, their provider, decided it wouldn’t provide the plan anymore, since, now, everyone would have access to health insurance.

And that hurt the organization’s numbers. “We did have a good deal of attrition during that time,” Mangen said. “They really came to us in large numbers because of the insurance offering that we had.”

But, the ACA didn’t fix everything for the small business community, she said, because there are no carriers that are willing to consider a one-person small business for a group plan. You have to have at least two pay-rolled employees for that.

And, “many of our organizations are mom and pop organizations, or they’re a sole proprietor, they’re attorneys, they’re accountants,” Mangen said. “And many times it’s just one person running the business, or it’s a husband and wife, and so they wouldn’t be considered a group, they would actually be considered individuals.”

ASBA is holding a forum on health care for their members Nov. 14 to educate them about what options small business owners have now, as well as looking forward to what healthcare could look like under the Trump administration.

The forum is sponsored by Aetna and Banner, which recently merged, and plan to offer coverage to small businesses, Mangen said.

Mangen said the best option for their members for 2017 would be to start a group offering for their business, if it’s possible. Or, “they might just have to bite the bullet for this year and take a look at what’s in the market, until something does change,” she said.

But, when it comes to figuring out what those changes may be as the Trump administration takes office, “it’s anybody’s guess what will actually happen,” Mangen said. “It’s one thing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it’s another thing in terms of, what do you replace it with?”

And, even with higher premiums and fewer choices for healthcare, there are many things about the ACA that ASBA members really like, she said, from a ban on considering pre-existing conditions to allowing dependent coverage until age 26.

So, going forward, Mangen said she hopes there are more choice for small businesses, but recognized that “costs are high for everyone, they’re high in terms of the hospitals, the providers, the carriers, the  individuals, so everybody’s really sharing the burden here,’ she said. “We have to look at responsibilities across the board.”

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