OKC Small Businesses Impacted By Affordable Care Act
OKLAHOMA CITY - Affordable health care is uncommon for small businesses. Nationwide, out of every four small business owners, one is without health insurance.
But since 2001, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber has offered a group plan for small businesses. And now that plan has been forced to stop.
There is nothing the Oklahoma City Chamber can do. It offered a group health care plan through Blue Cross, Blue Shield for 12 years. But now the Affordable Care Act has changed everything.
"There's a lot of uncertainty, we're not sure what we are going to do yet," said Eric Oesch, deputy director of Red Earth.
For 28 years, Red Earth has planned the yearly Red Earth Festival. But right now Deputy Director Eric Oesch has to fill his time with something else.
"We don't come to work to decide insurance for employees," said Oesch "we come to show Native American art, plan a festival, and run a museum."
Since 2001, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber has offered Chamber Choice, a health insurance plan for small businesses.
"By banding together under the chamber's they were able to get a much better rate," said the chamber's Cynthia Reid.
But with regulations in the Affordable Care Act, and the chamber not being the insurer, the coverage was forced to end.
"This is one of those situations that we couldn't stop to prevent," Reid said.
"By doing the Chamber Choice it was very affordable for us for being a part of the group plan," Oesch said.
Red Earth was not the only small business under Chamber Choice. The group plan covered more than 1,400 companies and more than 10,000 lives.
"We're frustrated with the lack of information and the lack of ability to continue something that is positive for these companies," Reid said.
"Our budget is tight and to budget for insurance it's hard 'cause we don't know what to expect," Oesch said.
Oesch hopes the insurance costs for Red Earth stay the same, but fears the deductibles will increase dramatically.
As for a deadline, the Chamber Choice insurance officially ends January1.