Just like people with individual health insurance polices, small businesses are grappling with unexpected changes to their policies and premiums because of the standards set by the Affordable Care Act.
In Arizona, Drs. Courtney and Matthew Dunn own DunnOrthodontics in central Phoenix. It’s a small but profitable practice, which they’ve had for about seven years. They don’t have to offer health insurance, but Matthew Dunn says, they choose to.
“We’ve always offered health insurance. It was easy in the beginning because we only had one employee, now we have 13 full-time employees.”
On Tuesday, the Dunns received a letter from their health insurer, Humana. It was labeled, “Important information regarding your coverage.” It informed them that they would not be able to continue with their current medical plan in 2014, as it did not meet all of the ACA requirements. The letter included information on a new Humana medical plan did comply with the ACA’s standards, but it would raise the Dunns’ premiums by 60 percent.
Courtney Dunn says she was shocked.
“I got a text from Matt letting me know, and my heart just stopped.”
She thought they had a good plan. Their employees have used their existing plan to cover surgeries, births and emergency room visits. Dunn says she’d figured they could keep their plan, hang onto it for a year and see how the Affordable Care Act played out before jumping into the marketplace.
Now the Dunns have about six weeks to figure out what their plan lacks and what they want to do. In the meantime, they’re meeting with their employees to explain the situation and get input.
Karen Yant is Dunn Orthodontic’s receptionist. She has a bad back. She wondered whether, if her employers no longer offered health insurance, employees would get extra money to pay for it themselves.
Courtney Dunn told Yant that was one option they were talking about, but it’s still early and they just don’t know.
“We still need to weigh what’s going to be the best for you guys and what’s going to be fair.”
Dunn says they’re talking to their insurance broker and reaching out to other small businesses owners for advice.
“I wish I could just say, ‘It’s going to be OK. It’s all going to work itself out,’ but it’s just the unknown at this point. We’re still hoping that we can go on the marketplace and find something better, but this is the first time that I’ve been really nervous.”
Her husband trying to be open about their situation since they still have limited information.
“I’m trying not to over-react to it,” he says. I’m trying to figure out what’s best for us and our employees, but I just don’t know right now.”