Mark Hodesh has been running Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for more than a decade. Here, he explains how the Affordable Care Act has not only helped his employees get the care they need, but helped him create more jobs. He told his story to Inc. reporter Eric Markowitz.
Some people say it's a job killer. That hasn't been my experience. I became aware of the Affordable Care Act in the spring of 2010 and realized it was aimed at me. There's an important distinction to be made here, in the "job killer" and "job creator" thing. Those who oppose it tout the bill as a job killer for small business. But when you're talking about mom and pop stores like me, you're talking about different objectives.
As a main street business, I'm eligible for a $9,000 tax credit for this. In 2010, the tea leaves of business were mixed. Our business was doing well, but I certainly wasn't in the mood to add an employee. But realizing we were getting a tax credit at the end of the year, well, that just gave me a little nudge and I did hire someone. For my store, it created a job. So here we have a person who was not working and not paying taxes. Now they are working and they are paying taxes. After she worked here for four months, she went out and bought a motorcycle.
In my experience the Affordable Care Act is a job creator.
I'm very interested in offering health care--in part because it's the right thing to do, but that's not really my motive. Really, it's just pragmatic. We're a small downtown store, and we compete with the national chains. You know, the ones with the huge parking lots. Well, we have six parking spaces.
We remain competitive by offering an attractive benefits package. And a big part of that benefits package is health care. It's very important for us to be able to attract and keep new employees. If we didn't have the Affordable Care Act, it would hurt out chances of being able to offer such a generous health care package.
I think the likelihood and threats of striking down health care reform are very slim. We're benefitting from it. whether it's the Affordable Care Act, or something slightly modified, I just don't see the public giving up these very positive benefits.
We started offering health care in 1999. We have 13 employees including me. Seven take advantage of it. Our health-care costs went up 100 percent in 10 years until 2007. They've been going up since then. I can't raise my prices fast enough to compensate for that. My competitors won't let me me. This bill really helped level the playing field between the truly small mom-and-pop stores and the moderately small and large companies.
When the Affordable Care Act was passed, I said "Alright! Finally." I know many small business owners disagree with it, but I'm fairly good at defending it. Many believe the rhetoric. It's political football. It isn't about politics or ideology. It's about people. You can't expect your employees to buy into the American dream if he thinks he's going to lose his equity in his house because of a bad weekend in the emergency room. It's just untenable. A lot of people that I talk with who say we can't afford Affordable Care Act have health insurance. I really can't tolerate that.
The idea is to lower the cost of the whole system. In my mind, it's being delivered ineffectively to everybody. If insuring everyone would allow for a healthier general population, that would be good for everybody.