“Health insurance is an enormous cost for small businesses,” said Amanda Ballantyne, the executive director of the Main Street Alliance, an advocacy group for small businesses. “It continues to be even after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.”
Many businesses say they need Congress to provide more money, and health insurers say they support federal efforts to help employers continue their coverage. “We believe Congress should provide temporary subsidies or direct financial assistance for employers to protect the health and financial stability of hard-working Americans,” said Justine Handelman, a senior vice president at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents the nation’s Blue Cross plans.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must return the excess profits if they do not spend at least 80 or 85 cents out of every dollar in premiums on customers’ health care. But even that provision strikes some as inadequate, given the current circumstances and the timing of the potential rebates.
“We are in the middle of a once-in-a-century health and economic crisis, and it will take everyone stepping up to do their part to get us past it — including health insurance companies,” said Representative Lauren Underwood, a Democrat from Illinois.
Dave Piersall, the owner of Lake Marine & RV, a boating business in Woodstock, Ill., used some of his federal aid on the $7,400-a-month insurance bill to cover his employees. “We came within inches of being canceled,” he said.
Although his business has rebounded as people have bought boats to help them cope with staying home, he worries about the coming cold weather. “I would be lying if I didn’t say winter is a scary time for the boat business,” Mr. Piersall said. “The health care is the biggest concern.”
And as hard as he is trying to maintain insurance for everyone, he is also concerned about efforts to do away with Obamacare. He was uninsured for a year and a half after leaving a corporate job to start the business before he could enroll in an A.C.A. plan that covered his Crohn’s disease.