Affordable Care Act workshop assists local small businesses - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Affordable Care Act workshop assists local small businesses

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If food prices had grown as fast as health care costs-- a dozen eggs would cost $55 dollars and a gallon of milk would cost $48 dollars.

That's according to a coalition promoting healthcare education in Louisiana.  But the Affordable Care Act meant to reverse rising health care costs has caused confusion and uncertainty for many.

And so far, the focus has been mainly on the individual portion of the reform plan.

This fall, comes the next phase, when small businesses get to shop around for health insurance. And today there was a workshop to help small business people sort it out.

Southern Spice serves up hot meals cooked to order at their restaurant in Lake Charles and they're growing, with a new location in Moss Bluff.  With fewer than fifty employees, they don't have to provide health insurance to workers. 

Still,  owner Myron Leleux  wants to better understand the affordable care act.

"I felt like any additional education we could get would probably benefit us and see how it would affect our business," said Leleux.

So,  Leleux and his wife attended this workshop put on by the Small Business Development Center at McNeese.

Director Donna Little says it's to help them maneuver through the bureaucracy.

"Small businesses will have certain obligations and they need to be prepared to meet those obligations and to understand how the act is going to affect their employees.  If they don't comply with the act then there are legal consequences and we don't want small businesses to get in trouble," said Little.

Speaker Michael Manes is with the Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition.

"Why not not, when you're healthy, when you're well, when things are going right, discover what you need and if you choose to buy it buy it.  If you choose not to buy it at least understand the risk you are accepting," said Manes.

But there remains a lot of uncertainty about how it will all play out.

"No one knows yet whether the people buying are sick people or well people.  The reality is, to make an insurance model work and this is an insurance model, you have to have a lot more well people paying premiums than sick people who are using premiums to pay claims," said Manes.

He says everyone can help lower healthcare costs down by leading a healthy lifestyle.

Leleux now feels better prepared to answer employee's questions.

"I feel a little more positive about some of the employees in the restaurant industry on how they will have an opportunity to get insurance and how it would affect their lives," said Leleux.

Organizers say they'll keep up efforts to help businesses navigate the health care act and make good choices.  To research or apply for coverage through the government's web site click here.  Other websites of interest are the Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition

and the Kaiser Foundation's web site.

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