As I wrote back in July, “These are the words that can strike terror in the hearts of most Americans, especially those in business for themselves like marine dealers. The words, “I’m from the government and I am here to help you,” came to mind again this past week as a result of some recent news items plus a personal experience.
Regarding recent (and scary) news, I just read a columnist who wrote the following about the new health care plan: “The former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, says that the subsidies for health insurance in the health law will cost $1.4 trillion, not the $450 billion estimated by the CBO. That is because as many as 35 million people will lose their health insurance at work since employers will have a strong financial incentive to drop coverage and dump workers into taxpayer subsidized plans.”
I have heard that many small businesses will be dropping health insurance for employees because the cost of the penalties to do so will be far less than the added cost of insurance premium increases. Here we go again, another, “I’m from the government and I am here to help you.”
Talk about premium increases….For years I was a volunteer director of facilities of a large church. I stepped down from that responsibility a couple of years ago but still continue to handle all of the insurance for the church including health care for the staff. I have been told we are probably looking at upwards of a 20 to 25% increase in premium cost for the church staff health care plan in 2011. Why? Because the insurance companies are anticipating increased costs due to Obamacare and, as a result, are covering their backsides with increased premiums.
Small businesses will be struggling with health care premiums. As one long-time, successful dealer said to me, “I don’t know if anyone has FULLY analyzed what this health care bill will do to small business, including our industry. We do know about the more onerous pieces which include the ‘dumbing down’ of health care to go hand in hand with almost for sure large premium increases.”
Here is an example from a personal standpoint. I have a lower back issue, as do many older men as they cross over to the “dark side” in the aging process. My chiropractor is convinced that my flying in the Air Force plus 27 years of running, until I tore up a knee, caused the compression of vertebrae in the lower spine that makes my back hurt. I said, “Doc, I always made smooth landings.” (Well, most of them were smooth.) He said, “That doesn’t matter. When you strap yourself into that airplane you become part of the plane when doing aerobatic maneuvers or making smooth landings.” He also said, “A lot of my patients are former pilots. And I also have a lot of semi-truck drivers with similar problems.”
At first, my chiropractor tried various treatments to no avail and was about to refer me to an orthopedic specialist. But then he said, “Let’s try a different treatment that we haven’t done yet.” This treatment really worked and gave me considerable relief right away. By seeing me every two weeks for this special adjustment, he has kept me fully functional. But if I go longer than two weeks between visits with the chiropractor, then I start having serious back discomfort again.
Here is the problem. Medicare has been covering the cost of these treatments for me and no doubt thousands of other senior citizens across America… up until two weeks ago when my chiropractor told me that Medicare had advised him they would no longer cover this treatment. Why? I don’t know. It gets complicated. I guess they want us older folks who have lower back issues to go to orthopedic doctors and have surgery at the cost of thousands of dollars. A surgery procedure that may or may not help our back problems. Or we can now just pay out-of-pocket for any chiropractic treatment, which is what I have chosen to do. But to me, this is just another way the government is saying, “I am from the government and I am here to help you.”
The dealer I referred to above also said to me, “The ‘1099 thing’ is a sheer debacle; even the government won’t be able to comply with that mandate unless everyone goes to work for them.” I totally agree. What is the ‘1099 thing’ the dealer refers to? Obamacare imposes a huge non-medical tax compliance burden on small business. It will require them starting in 2012 to mail IRS 1099 tax forms to every vendor from whom they make purchases of more than $600 in a year, with duplicate forms going to the Internal Revenue Service. Like so much else in the 2,500-page bill, our senators and representatives were apparently unaware of this when they passed the measure. Again… government is giving businesses more help than they need!
Then there is the E15 ethanol debacle. Those of us in the boating industry all know that E15 (15% ethanol) can damage thousands of marine engines. The E10 (10% ethanol) has been enough of a challenge and has caused safety concerns due to the destructive nature of ethanol in engines. Now they want to go to E15??? Duh!
And we have been hearing, “I’m from the government and I am here to help the unemployed with a huge stimulus program.” So how did that work out? Unemployment is at almost 10% nationally… and that does not include those who have finally given up looking for a job and therefore are not included in the head count of unemployed. Also, I have read that a big percentage of any jobs that were created by the stimulus are with the government. Huh? Just yesterday a California dealer, who has been a good friend for many years, called me and during our conversation he said his area had over 17% unemployment. Ouch! And out of several dealers in his market, he said his dealership is the only one that has survived. Knowing him, he will continue to survive this economic mess.
The bottom line is this… I certainly hope I don’t hear any more, “I am from the government and I am here to help you,” in any other segment of my life, business or personal! I hope you don’t either. I think we are all getting more help than we want or need! Unfortunately, Washington seems to keep coming up with creative ways to create stark terror in the hearts of businesses.