Health Care Reform

Durbin Meets With Small Business Owners To Discuss Health Insurance Reform

CHICAGO, IL–(ENEWSPF)–August 10, 2009.  Health insurance reform will not be successful until the needs of small businesses and the self-employed are met,  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today.

Of the nearly 46 million Americans without health insurance, more than half are small business owners, employees, the self-employed and their dependents. Small businesses and the self-employed face more obstacles in finding affordable and accessible health coverage than large employers, including higher costs across the board and unpredictable premium rates that can spike when a single employee gets sick, leading to disrupted coverage.

“Skyrocketing health care costs have proved too much for many businesses, leaving millions of small business employees without insurance,” Durbin said. “Just as small businesses and the self-employed are the forefront of the American economy, we need to place them at the forefront of our efforts to reform our health care system. The Senate’s draft legislation will help millions of small business owners and employers afford the health insurance they deserve.”

Last year, Durbin crafted a bill in partnership with a diverse coalition of stakeholders from across the political spectrum to make insurance more available and affordable for the 47 million employees of the nation’s 5.9 million small businesses and for the 14 million people who are self employed. Although each group has its own priorities for broader reform, they remain committed to Durbin’s plan to address the needs of small businesses as one important component of healthcare reform.

The major features of Durbin’s bill, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), are included in the health insurance reform legislation that the Senate will consider in September.

Those provisions include:

  • Allowing small businesses and those who are self-employed to band together in a statewide pool to obtain lower health insurance prices by spreading their risk over a larger number of participants.
  • Providing small businesses and the self-employed with credits to help offset the cost of providing insurance.
  • Banning premium variation based on health status and gender, which will ensure fairness and protect small businesses from large increases in premiums when an employee and dependent get sick.

Durbin also praised a number of other provisions in the bill which will expand access to quality health coverage; give individuals group buying power; protect the so-called public option to provide competition and hold private insurers accountable; and make significant improvements to health professional programs including nursing and others in the public health workforce.

“Reform means that insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because you have a preexisting condition. It means that key preventive care such as regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or vaccinations will be free,” Durbin said. “And it means insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. They won’t be allowed to refuse renewal just because someone became sick.”