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Boulder Bicycle Lugged

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Obamacare Repeal Threatens Boulder Bicycle

Its been a very long while since I've posted here.  And this post is low on bike content.  But its important.  I hope to start posting fun bike related info very soon.

Business has been very good for Boulder Bicycle the past few years.  The Rando biz is down, but vintage is way up for us.  We're having fun and despite not having regular shop hours lately, we've been working more than full time filling orders and doing the best we can to keep up with inquiries.

As some may know, I'm doing some work as Research Team Leader for the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care.    Of all the challenges that face Boulder Bicycle as a small business, the lack of affordable health coverage is most concerning.  

The following letter I wrote was recently distributed by the foundation.  Please don't fear - Boulder Bicycle is on very good footing for now.  But I am concerned.  For everyone who enjoys the benefits of a small business owner, I urge you to contact your legislators and let them know your concerns.  If you tend to lean right, than at least advocate for a change to a system that lessens the market imperfections in the health care industry and which will bring down costs.  The current proposed legislation does nothing of the sort.  

ACA Repeal Threatens My Business

By Michael Kone

I am a small business owner and I’m scared. If the ACA is replaced, our family’s health insurance is likely to become even less affordable. My wife and I each own a small business. Provisions in the replacement bills may force either my wife or me to shut our business and find employment with less costly large-group health insurance.

Our family earns just enough that we are ineligible for subsidies. About one-third of our income goes to pay for health insurance and related costs. The proposed ACA replacements will allow insurers to raise premiums for older workers like me, which could make the cost unbearable.

But I fear that it could get much worse. Despite arguments from the opposition, the ACA was very well thought out. It imposed an individual mandate so that everyone, especially the young and healthy, would pay into the system so they could have affordable coverage when they become older or less healthy. The proposed legislation eliminates the mandate. Folks may then put off purchasing insurance until they are more likely to need it, which will increase premium costs for those with coverage.

Because “more affordable” health insurance is tied to larger-group employment, the ability to grow my small business is severely limited. A few years back, I was in discussions with someone who I considered a potential dream business partner. He was familiar with my business, had perfectly matched management experience, and a vision to grow my company. His salary requirements were flexible, but there was no way that my small business could afford to find coverage to match what he received from his current (larger) employer. And so I lost this opportunity.

As a business owner, I understand the power of the free market. My business is engaged in a constant struggle against larger mail-order companies that aggressively compete on price. But the current repeal measures do nothing to harness market power. There is nothing in the repeal effort to increase price transparency and no new mechanisms to empower health consumers to seek out less costly providers. What the repeal effort does accomplish is to provide huge tax cuts to the very wealthy. Once the tax cuts are fully implemented, 40 percent of the tax savings are expected to go to the top 1 percent!

I constantly ask myself: Do my customers get a good value for their hard-earned money? Based on what they tell me, I believe that they do. Can I say that about my family’s health care expenditures? Not even close. I’m paying into a system that consumes roughly 17 percent of our nation’s GDP. But in Japan, which has a relatively older population, the share is about 10 percent.

Not only do I pay into a system that I feel is overpriced, but I’m paying into a system that leaves many without adequate health care. And the proposed repeal measures make this bad situation much worse by removing the ACA safety nets that so many have thankfully started to rely on.

I hope for the day when a health care system emerges in our country that takes care of everyone. Currently we pay too much and we get too little. And many folks have no access to care at all. I dream of a single-payer system focused on providing health care rather than creating profits. In the meantime, I hope that our legislators preserve the ACA and the gains we’ve made so far. My family, my community, and my business depend on it.