With deadlines looming, small businesses face confusion over health care changes

Sep 5, 2013

Michigan businesses are trying to get ready for changes to the health care system by the Affordable Care Act.

But there's a lot of confusion, especially for small businesses.

Jennifer Kluge with the Michigan Business and Professional Association says the new health care system will increase costs for small businesses.

Canine to Five is a pet care store in metro Detroit. Owner Liz Blondy provides health coverage to her employees.
Canine to Five is a pet care store in metro Detroit. Owner Liz Blondy provides health coverage to her employees.

"For small businesses, there's nothing affordable about health care reform," she said.

But Brett Williams with Michigan Consumers for Healthcare says it's too early to tell, but rates could decrease over time.

"Statistically, across the country, states that have introduced rates predominantly have gone down in the individual market," said Williams. "I personally believe that rates are going to go down in the long-term. The level of competition is going to be increased substantially."

Liz Blondy owns Canine to Five, a pet care store in midtown Detroit and Ferndale. She has to notify her employees of new options they have for health care coverage by October 1.

But Blondy says she doesn't know what those options are.

"That's what's frustrating is that nobody has made it clear to me how I am to be in compliance with the law," she said.

Blondy has provided health care to her employees -- even some on minimum wage -- for three years.

She says she thinks the Affordable Care Act will increase her costs. But she says she's a supporter of the new health plan, and won't drop coverage even if costs go up because of the Affordable Care Act.

"I think it's really important when you hire somebody, especially full-time, that you provide them with health care," she said. "I can't say to somebody, 'I gave you insurance for the last three years and I'm taking that away,'" she said. "My employees do a good job for me, and I need to do a good job for them."

-Sarah Kerson, Michigan Radio Newsroom