Biz owner on healthcare: 'How am I going to make it work?'

EUGENE, Ore. -- With the new health care regulations going into effect on January 1, some people say they are scrambling to figure it all out.

The regulations will require businesses and individuals to make a number of changes, and many people that KVAL News spoke with weren't certain about all of the new rules.

Some business owners are educating themselves on what it will take to keep their doors open, and some people say President Obama's healthcare plan has them concerned about their long term health. "What I do know, its going to hurt people like me who are just barely in that middle income range," said Eugene resident Lyz Phillips. "I have insurance, but the deductibles are high and they're going a lot higher."

Marilyn Ulvaeus, also from Eugene, says she likes the plan, but it needs some adjustments. "I think its a very good idea, but I think we are going to need some revisions if its going to cut the costs somehow," she said.

Bob Jensen, owner of the Wild Duck in Eugene, says his business sits right on the cusp of 50 employees, meaning he will have to provide health insurance. "First thing you have to do when something like this comes up is, how am I going to make it work? Its hard to imagine not seeing price increases and other things," Jensen said. "The public is going to be asked to share, because as I said before, that pool of money isn't sitting here waiting to disperse."

One thing is clear: they all say they have some research to do before January 1.

Here's a breakdown of just some of the changes:

  • All working Americans will be required to have health insurance.
  • If they opt out, the government will charge a fee of $95 per year for the individual, and by 2016 it will increase to $695 dollars a year.
  • All Americans with very low incomes (about $11,000 for an individual in 2010) will qualify for Medicaid.
  • Young adults can remain on their parent's insurance until they are 26-years-old.
  • Businesses with 50 or more employees must offer health insurance, or they will be assessed a penalty.

Jensen says offsetting those costs has him worried. "What can I do within my business framework to help mitigate those costs? We are still all profit driven and it isn't just a, 'stuff it in our pockets,' its to make sure we're open next year too," he said. "No profit, no business."

Jensen says business owners are looking at different strategies to stay under the 50 employee category. Some of those include splitting up restaurant ownerships and having more part time employees.