What about Health Care for the Entrepreneur?

This post was written by jd on June 15, 2009
Posted Under: Business


There was a fascinating story on NPR the other day about entrepreneurs. The person being interviewed felt that entrepreneurs could be the way out of the recession, but because of a few factors most people who could or want to start a business don’t. One of the reasons stated why older people won’t start a business, which caught my attention is health care.

Paul Kedrosky, editor of the business blog ‘Infectious Greed,’ stated that start up costs really are not the main consideration when people of the older persuasion decide not to start a business…it’s health care.

I cannot agree more! I am happily self-employed at the young age of 40. I started my business when I was 35 and I went for a long time with major medical only. Thankfully my ex-husband covered our daughter under his work sponsored health care plan. What did “major medical” mean? It meant that I paid full price for my Doctor visits, my prescriptions and any tests or x-rays performed. Why? It was what I could afford. The only time I saw my Doctor was for my yearly girl exam. That’s it. I couldn’t afford to get sick and if I did my medical coverage wouldn’t kick in until I am on the hospital bed dying.

Thankfully my new husband has a job with great health care and I’m now covered under his plan. A few months ago his place of business went through a major restructuring and it looked like he was going to lose his job. We started brainstorming about what we can do if that happened.

My first reaction was to tell my husband to go freelance. He works with video and web and it would be an easy fit into my business. We were very excited at the prospect of creating this expanded business together and how having him work from home would help because he would be around more to help with the girls. We had no doubt that we would create enough income to continue our lifestyle and save for retirement….but then came the health care issue.  Could we afford the health care we need (I am older now…premiums tend to skyrocket at the age of 40 and DH is a few years older)?  That became the proverbial fly in my glass of wine.

Right now we have dental, vision, RX and health insurance. Last year alone I had $ 2000 worth of dental work done and my teeth are in good shape but they are not getting any younger. I have glasses and need yearly exams and occasionally new lenses (besides what is it with turning 40 and suddenly having to hold a book at arms length away while reading….?)  As I get older I find that I need more medical monitoring besides the yearly girl exam, there is now the mammogram and other yearly checkups.

The night before the layoffs my husband and I toyed with the idea of him going in and saying take me…lay me off. What stopped us? The idea that once he became self employed we would be one accident or one illness away from losing everything we worked for. We would be putting not only our financial health in jeopardy but we would also be gambling with our girls’ future.  We couldn’t do that.  Thankfully my husband’s job was spared. For how long?  We don’t know.

How sad is it that he is now working for the health insurance? He loves what he does, he likes where he works and the people he works with/for. But given the uncertain future at his place of work he would have more security going out on his own but he/we chose not to because of health care.  Where did it all go wrong?

I’m not a policy or political wonk. I keep abreast of the headlines but I’m too busy raising my family and running my business to get deep into the political wrangling. Normally I don’t talk publicly about politics. For the first time I wrote to my representative and implored them to do the right thing and create a health care system that is affordable for everyone…including us entrepreneurs. If the blogger is correct and I suspect he is (given that just about every major corporation is either in or on the verge of bankruptcy) we entrepreneurs just might end up being the saving grace of our economy


This article was written by Lisa Jacobson (My daughter)

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