Tom Harte, left, president of Landmark Benefits in Hampstead, N.H., testifies on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on small businesses at a roundtable held by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Also pictured is James Scott, president and CEO of Applied Policy in Alexandria, Va.
, left, president of Landmark Benefits
in Hampstead, N.H., testifies on the... more
A health insurance broker from New Hampshire traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to tell Congress about the challenges his
small business clients face due to Obamacare.
perspective is important since most small businesses use a broker to purchase health insurance.
isn't looking for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act - it's here to stay - he's
just hoping for changes that would make the law work better for small businesses.
Witness:Tom Harte, president of Landmark Benefits Inc. in Hampstead, N.H., which provides employee benefits to more than 300 businesses, mostly small and mid-sized.
Small businesses exchanges aren't working well: The ACA was supposed to enable small businesses to get better deals on health insurance by letting them purchase plans on new exchanges, but these Small Business Health Options Program exchanges are "a dismal failure," Harte
The enrollment process is "riddled with difficulties," the exchanges don't offer enough plans, and many of these plans have limited provider networks.
Plus, the tax credit available to certain small businesses that buy insurance through the exchanges is so limited and hard to qualify for that Harte
doesn't know of any clients that have received it.
Older workers cost small businesses more: Under the ACA, insurers often can't present small businesses with a "composite rate" for all their workers, as they could before.
Instead, health insurance rates vary from employee to employee, depending on their age.
At one of his
clients, the annual rate for single coverage is $4,579 for a 21-year-old and $13,726 for a 64-year-old.
"The end result of this practice is many employers are struggling with the financial impact of hiring more experienced employers," Harte
The small group market shouldn't be expanded: Employers with 51 to 100 employees are scheduled to be shifted into the small group market in 2016.
That would be a mistake, Harte
said, for several reasons, including the "administrative nightmare" these larger businesses would face if they have 75 different rates for 75 different employees.
Plus, these companies would be subject to other market reforms that apply to the small group market and wouldn't be able to keep their current health plans.
As a result, 64 percent of businesses with 51 to 100 employees would see sizable premium increases next year, according to an Oliver Wyman analysis.
said employers with a relatively healthy work force will leave the small group marketplace and self-insure to avoid these cost increases.
offered plenty of real-world examples of the ACA's impact on small businesses.
What did Harte
think of the experience?"I liked it," Harte
"I liked the informal nature of it," which he
said allowed for more candid comments.