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Sat Apr 3 2010 19:45:39

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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The issue of affordable health insurance is often on the minds of business people, especially these days with the recent passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The bill contains a provision called the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, and Sunday's AuctionBytes Update newsletter examines whether small online sellers will be able to take advantage of it (link to article).

While working on the story, I was reminded of Meg Whitman's promise to offer health insurance to eBay sellers, which she announced at her speech during the 2002 eBay Live conference. The crowd was stunned at her description of dental, vision and pharmacy coverage, but there was little enthusiasm for the plan when it launched the following year due to limitations and costs, and it quickly faded away.

The ability for sole proprietors and small businesses to join a pool for better negotiating power for healthcare is a good idea. David and I can attest to the fact that, nevertheless, rates go up every year. Although in an interesting turn of events last week, the Massachusetts Division of Insurance rejected most of the premium rates proposed by insurers for small-business plans on April 1, 2010.

If you have tips on researching and obtaining health insurance for small businesses, feel free to share them below.

Comments (23) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: RuthieAnn

Sun Apr 4 11:55:47 2010

Fortunately, we get our insurance through my husband's company. I don't know many sellers who are making enough to pay for their own insurance coverage. Hopefully, the new healthcare bill, now that it's FINALLY passed, will help in that respect.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: tell all

Sun Apr 4 12:06:46 2010

Good time to be over 65. Medicare works.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Repeal Obama Care!!

Sun Apr 4 12:44:28 2010

Just wait. This new healthcare bill is going to hit everyone right in the pocketbook. Until we have tort reform the cost of insurance is going to keep going up!! This was a half-baked bill, by a president who is half-baked...

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: ebay seller

Sun Apr 4 13:59:30 2010

@Repeal Obama Care!!

As usual extreme right views distort facts .Tort reform certainly is a good idea but the fact is lawsuits actually are a very very small portion of healthcare costs around 1% .Instead of spouting hate and trying to inflame people , how about spouting solutions.REAL SOLUTIONS NOT TALKING POINTS!I remember when ebay said it was going to provide healthcare options and thought it was great till I tried to use my new healthcare discount card and guess what NO ONE EXCEPTED IT.Gee and meg is a republican BIG SURPISE !The healthcare bill is far from perfect but it is a start in the right direction.The current healthcare plan will help over 95% of the current uninsured get insurance .The republican alternative would have helped 3% get insurance.Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which is the better plan .I am a independent by the way who voted for reagan and bushes father .The problem now is too many people choose sides first rather than trying to solve problems first

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: ZZTopshlf

Sun Apr 4 23:39:32 2010

@Ebay Seller

Anybody who thinks that the government will do a great job running their health care needs to have their head examined.

Everything the government tries to run, they screw up and waste a ton of money in the process. That leads to more taxes, more regulations, more bureaucracy, more red tape and more hurdles.

Funny, that's kind of what trying to sell on Ebay is like!

I say get the hell out of my way and let me create my own American dream. That's all our forefathers wanted when they immigrated here. They weren't looking to coddled by the nannies who want to run every damn aspect of our lives...

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: warho

Sun Apr 4 23:58:38 2010


I'll second that. Let the Fed regulate big pharma, device manufacturers, litigators and insurance. Clean that mess up then give people the OPTION of joining a government plan.

Social Security is a slush fund. Medicare is broke. Now just because you're alive you're going to have to pay the government - it's a frickin' 'Existance Tax' - fines or buy insurance. It's just another way to steal your money.

You can put a silk dress on a pig but it's still just a pig in a silk dress.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Troglodyte

Mon Apr 5 02:29:34 2010

Tort reform?? I'd bet you have no idea whatsoever what a tort (hint: not a French dessert) is without looking it up in the Tea Party Handcook for Patriot Lemmings.

What's need is corporate reform!

Think for yourself instead of blindly regurgitating propaganda created and paid for by the health care cartel to keep you and the rest of America ignorant of the truth.

Oh, but it's so much easier to repeat two or three word chants than it is to think critically for yourself.

Thinking is hard, repeating short phrases isn't.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 5 03:16:12 2010


I so agree!

All those chanting, selfish people, who think they are so smart, are just doing what the health care industry has hypnotized them to do.

If you don't want the Government to have anything to do with your life or your ''American Dream'', then I am sure you will reject Medicare when you turn 65, and refuse to accept your Social Security checks.

All those older people I see on TV holding up ''Repeal Obamacare'' signs or signs that say the government should stay out of their health care, always make me laugh. What do they think Medicare is?

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: John

Mon Apr 5 09:37:37 2010

Lawsuits might only be a small portion of healthcare costs, but you are missing the point. The real cost comes from the unbelievably high insurance premiums the doctors must pay in order to protect themselves from lawsuits. Tort reform would take care of this along with the frivolous lawsuits.

Ina mentioned two interesting things in the article: joining pools & Mass. We need less govt not more. Imagine if we could all join an ebay ''insurance pool'' across state lines. As to the Mass. comment: the proposed premium reject will only cause more Dr's to leave the state. The only way they can offset the premium ''decrease'' is to only pay x amount per procedure. If it doesn't cover a Dr's costs he won't continue to operate. Just look at all the Dr's now that are starting to refuse govt coverage.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Rich

Mon Apr 5 11:32:55 2010

The cost of most health insurance policies has tripled in 15 years and doubled in the past 6 years; so until the cost is addressed and brought down; there is no easy solution.  For small business owners in the early start up phase; they can often have low proofit and loss statements and might be able to find coverage in their state. In New York; anyone self employed who makes under $25,000; is eligible to join New York's health insurance system at a very low monthly cost.  Each state has their own system. With Ebay hijacking almost every phase of selling and with Paypal forced into preparing tens of thousands of 1099's in 2011; it would appear to some that Ebay has become an employer to their sellers.  That can be argued either way, but the numbers could be law in 2011. I could be wrong, but I think in the state of New York, that 1099's over $20,000 would be looked at as an employer-employee relationship; so eventually there could be health insurance through ebay(as impossible as it seems)

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Troglodyte

Mon Apr 5 15:56:51 2010

These anti government haters can in addition to refusing Medicare and Social Security also refuse fire and police protection, the use of public schools and universities, veteran's benefits including VA health care, disability benefits, public libraries, unemplopyment compensation, free county health clinics, refuse to drive on roads and highways, refuse to drink municipal water, disconnect from city/county/township sewer systems, and in general refuse to use or participate in any service paid for in part or in full by any branch of government.

Any Fox News/corporatist robots out there willing to put their lifetstyle where their uninformed mouths are?

Health care in this country has been delivered in exactly the same way ebay delivers to sellers. Most coporations basically behave in a similar manner -- it's all about their profits, obscene salaries, perks, and stock options, and their customers be damned.

Thinking is hard, repeating mindless nonsese isn't.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Angela

Mon Apr 5 23:53:33 2010

Troglodyte, we'd love the chance to set up alternative plans, to possibly any and all of those things you mention.  If your ideas were any good, they wouldn't require the threats of jail time and property confiscation for non-compliance.

The sky-rocketing costs of medical care are largely because the government pays for so much of our health care.  Real reform would take the decisions away from both the government and the insurance companies, and put them back in the hands of the patients and doctors where they belong.

Medicare? Bankrupt. Social Security? Bankrupt. Post Office? Bankrupt. Schools? Bankrupt. Shall I go on?

Tort reform has not reduced costs in any state that's implemented it. It's an insurance company talking point.

The best way to bring down costs is with the type of plan I have, the type that Dear Leader has outlawed. That's a HSA combined with a major medical policy.

It's absolutely absurd to think that mandating insurance coverage will drive costs down.

Remember what happened to credit card rates when Congress gave them six months notice before capping rates and fees?  What on earth do you think will happen now that Congress gave insurance companies 4 years to prepare for demanding that they accept everybody, regardless of pre-existing conditions?

There were much, much better suggestions out there for reform, the least of which involved decoupling insurance from employment.

But seeing the Democrats cheer for the right to jump into bed with their arch-enemies, the insurance companies makes it almost worth it.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Angela

Mon Apr 5 23:59:00 2010

And as for getting insurance, again - I love my HSA combined with the major medical policy.  Your best bet is to call insurance agents.

While it's trendy to cry about children with preexistig conditions while ignoring those kids already have a bankrupt program to help them, the truth is that affordable insurance can be found by individuals, especially if you're young.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Trogodyte

Tue Apr 6 00:28:46 2010

Angela is another victim of the drive to re wirter history.

Social Security and Medicare are bankrupt because our last few presidents -- both Democrats and Repuiblicans but primarily Ronald Reagan -- "borrowed" money from these funds to finance things that had nothing to do either program.

Further, congressional refusal for the last several years to raise the Social Security annual payment ceiling to appropriate levels for those earning above 85k annually is also responsible.

The Post Office is in trouble because the Shrub administration failed to adequately fund the union pension fund in an attempt to destroy another labor union which is another corporate objetive to lower labor costs. The purpose was to destroy the labor union.

Republicans and Bill Clinton are to blame for the problems you mention as well as a congress bought and paid for by corporate interests.

Look in the mirror. It's mindless repeating of Republican corporatist talking points that anesthetizes a population that apparently care more for sports than their standard of living and quality of life.

As for cheap health insurance, ask the people in Calfornia about just how cheap it is for decent coverage.

Is this a perfect health care bill? No. But at least it's a start. As long as corporations own congress and the legions of mindless minions, it's not likely to get any better.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Joyful

Tue Apr 6 09:19:52 2010

What Troglodyte said. And keep in mind that California is among the many states that already have legislated "tort reform."

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 6 09:39:13 2010

I find it interesting the mention that in NY anyone earning under $25,000 a year can purchase a low cost insurance premium. Have you tried living on less than $25,000 a year and having to take insurance policies out of that as well? Let me tell you in this day and age, only extremely frugal living at that income level will keep a roof over your head, food on the table and 10 year old clothes on your back. That is what I think is so funny about this new 'reform'. Either buy insurance or be fined. If we had money for insurance don't you think we would have bought it? I'm on Medicare but my hubby has pre-existing conditions that keeps him from being eligible for even high priced insurance. We shell out around $6000 a year already for my Medicare and supplements, co-pays on drugs, full cost on his drugs and medicine. We aren't eligible for an HSA as we can't get an insurance policy as well, where would the money come from? These folks that sit in the White House, The Senate, and THe House of Representatives have no concept of what their new laws will really do to the working poor and the self employed (especially since they have great health care coverage). We try to cover our own costs as much as possible (one of the reasons for selling on line) but having to have more health care bills (or be fined) crammed down our throats is counter-productive.

When we were PS and had the "health benefits" it was simply a drug discount card that actually saved us about $1000 a year, until ebay messed up search and the whole system so bad that we bailed from ebay so aren't eligible for it anymore.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: SB InsuranceNeeded

Tue Apr 6 11:23:47 2010

People, take your issues off the road!  Get off your soap boxes and answer the question asked (i.e. "anyone have tips on researching or obtaining small business health insurance".)  Can anybody answer this qestion???  I for one would like to know.  Thanks.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Trogolodyte

Tue Apr 6 17:47:39 2010

"Crammed down your throat" and all the synonymic phrases: carefully crafted by RepubCorp strategist/propagandist Frank Luntz.

Thiinging for yourself is hard, being a parrot is easy.

Now here's some corporate health care plans we can all trust:

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

by: Troglodyte

Tue Apr 6 17:49:58 2010

Of course that would be

THINKING for yourself is hard, beinga parrot is easy.

Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers   Health Insurance for Small Online Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Tue Apr 6 19:51:45 2010

I, too, am from Massachusetts and have had a small group insurance plan for many years. I had problems getting individual insurance because it was expensive and wanted to exclude preexisting conditions, but this wasn't the case when I got my small group plan. Blue Cross offers reasonably-priced small group policies.  Mine is expensive only because I am a heavy user of my insurance and found that it's cheaper to pay higher premiums on the front end than deductibles, higher co-pays, and co-insurance on the back end.

The Obama plan will likely cost me more money, since my plan nearly qualifies as a "Cadillac" plan. I'm not terribly happy about that, but I think something needs to be done.

The thing that bothers me about the people who complain about not wanting to be forced to buy insurance is that these same people will later expect free care from the ER when they have an accident or fall ill and can't afford to pay. Then, guess what? Costs go up for the rest of us who have to cover the losses incurred by the hospitals and doctors. I do think everyone should have to have some minimal level of insurance, but that it should be part of a nationwide risk pool, to help spread costs around better. The current state-by-state patchwork we have is part of what drives up costs, since there's a lot more paperwork and administration involved with managing compliance with the rules of multiple government entities.  They need to simplify the red tape, not add more of it.

The plus side of the Obama plan is that it will make employers less likely to hire on permanent employees and more likely to use contractors. Since I work as contract consultant in my day job ( I sell online part-time, for the moment), this means more work for me :-)

I applaud the current administration for doing *something*, but I'd rather see a slower, more incremental approach that doesn't lean so heavily upon employers. Health insurance should not be provided via employers, but be something direct to individuals.

This is one reason I like working on contract as a sort of perma-temp. I don't have to depend on what some employer decides to offer for insurance.  I can choose what suits my situation best, not what they feel like making available to me.

To get back on topic, I urge anyone with a small business, even a sole proprietorship (which is what I have) to look into small group insurance. It's out there. You just have to do a little research to find it.

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