One of the major goals of the Health Reform Law that President Obama signed in March, 2010, was to facilitate accessible and affordable insurance to all Americans. Currently, most Americans working for large corporations will receive a health insurance plan as a benefits option when they are employed. Working with large numbers, the large corporations are able to pull out lower premiums for their employees. Most employees of large corporations find these premium payments affordable and participate. Not so with self-employed individuals or small businesses. They do not have the numbers to get the discounts of larger organizations. For this reason, many individuals and small business owners and employees are medically uninsured.
In the United States, the traditional provider of health insurance has been businesses. Seen as the primary cause of health problems, business was called to provide insurance to employees as early as the days of Teddy Roosevelt. Although business is not the primary cause of human illness (it was so perceived at a time when capitalism was being blamed for everything), business has shouldered the responsibility, viewing it as one of those requirements for doing business in the U.S. that can’t be avoided and that could have positive side-effects for the business that insures its people. For one thing, health insurance benefits are a powerful recruitment incentive for those valuable employees that no business can do without. This attraction is quite doable for large corporations, but small businesses, not having the numbers to command lower premiums for their employees, are left out in the cold. They cannot attract those valuable employees because they can’t provide affordable insurance.
While the Health Reform Law doesn’t aim to make small businesses more competitive with bigger businesses, by providing a way for small businesses to get insurance for their employees at near the same prices big corporations can, the law has given a boost to small business employee recruitment. The intent to create exchanges for health insurance will enable small business to join together in an exchange and so increase their numbers, thereby qualifying an exchange to receive the discounts larger corporations now receive.
President Obama has assured the American public that these exchanges will be built throughout the country. In these exchanges, various health care insurance providers will offer their products at rates only the big corporations are used to seeing. These exchanges will be health care insurance ‘marketplaces’. Small businesses won’t be forced to take a ‘one size fits all’ type of plan, but plans that best suit the individual business environment, and its employees. Small business will be further encouraged to purchase health insurance for their employees, with tax incentives that should, combined with low exchange rates, enable all small businesses to provide insurance to their employees at rates comparable to those the big corporations offer.
These exchanges will not only benefit the small business, but the also self-employed individuals. These individuals are currently the largest uninsured group among working people, simply because a single individual has to pay more for medical insurance than a group. Now, self-employed individuals can team up with other self-employed individuals and small businesses to get the low cost, comprehensive insurance the corporate worker now enjoys.
Don’t expect to purchase health insurance tomorrow from one of these exchanges. It will take time to get them going. Don’t wait to purchase health insurance until the exchanges come. Purchase health insurance now – you may need it. When exchanges take effect, then you’ll be able to purchase health insurance at affordable prices.