About 900 actors, musicians, authors, architects, and other creative professionals who had been buying their health insurance through The Entertainment Industry Group Insurance Trust will no longer be able to do so because of a provision in ObamaCare.
"They are upset," said David Rubin, the vice president and corporate secretary of TEIGIT, a Clifton Park, N.Y., health insurance broker that has existed since 1965 but whose business Mr. Rubin said will "fade away" under the new law.
Mr. Rubin noted that in making the case for ObamaCare, the president had repeatedly said that if people like their current employer-provided insurance, they would be able to keep it. "They were told that insurance was going to be unaffected," he said.
But the Affordable Care Act disallows the single-employee sole-proprietor or husband-and-wife businesses from purchasing policies as employers. "One of the troubling things about this is a lot of mom and pop businesses are no longer considered to be a business," Mr. Rubin said. "They are being thrown onto the individual exchanges."
The Authors Guild, which has worked with TEIGIT for decades to offer health insurance for its members who are self-employed authors, notified members in a letter dated September 25 that it would stop offering that benefit at year-end. (Disclosure: I am an Authors Guild member who got my insurance through TEIGIT from 2009 to 2011.) "We are grateful to TEIGIT for its impeccable service and dedication, and for helping the Guild provide this important benefit of membership, which will expire at the end of the year," the letter said.
The TEIGIT web site has a notice in red ink at the top of the home page: "Please note that all Individual &/or Sole Proprietor Health Insurance Association Plans will terminate January 1, 2014."
Mr. Rubin, who said he had voted for President Obama and described himself as a "big fan" of the ObamaCare concept, said that in addition to affecting his customers, the law will put him and his wife Alice, the president of TEIGIT, out of business. "We used to have two employees. Then we will go down to one. Then just Alice and me," he said. "We're going to start just slowly shutting."
Though the law was passed in 2010, Mr. Rubin said the consequences for his firm, which he and his wife purchased 8 years ago, did not become clear until more recently. "The law is so complex we didn't realize until sometime in the early summer that we were going to lose out," he said.
He said he had mixed feelings. On one hand, he and his wife are old enough that they were thinking about retiring anyway. On the other hand, some of his longtime customers, used to having "David" and "Alice" to talk them through choices, explain benefits, and advocate for them with insurance companies if necessary, are now headed into "a much more mechanical relationship" with an online exchange.
"They are quite frightened," Mr. Rubin said.
He said some of his soon-to-be-former clients may get "a slightly lower rate" by purchasing insurance on the exchanges. "I am guessing, but I do not know for sure, that the benefits will not be as good," he said.