Businesses sound off on impending Affordable Care Act changes

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Individual complaints about the Affordable Care Act are running high in East Texas, but that's not all people are fussing about. Some local businesses and nonprofit's are saying Obamacare could potentially hit them a little too hard, and they're worried.

Godtel Ministries has housed hundreds of homeless people in Lufkin for years, but owners Martin and Mary Baker say because of the impending Affordable Care Act their services could dwindle.

"Sometimes they are sick and they need just a little bit of time to get well and if you're sick and can't get medical attention that will be the problem right there," Mary Baker said.

The problem isn't that their guests don't have health insurance, in fact much of them rely on Medicaid and Medicare. It's the fact that rising premiums for existing health insurance holders could impact funds Godtel receives from outside sponsors.

As a nonprofit organization, Godtel relies on funds and donations to provide the services their guests need like dining, laundry and housing services.

Health insurance agent John Wynn says most people are confused about the act.

"It's requiring that everybody have health insurance and if you don't, you will be charged a penalty of $95 an adult and $47.50 a child, but people don't realize or one percent," Wynn said.

Jackie Zimmerman says small businesses like hers won't be affected by the act, but because of rising premiums—her personal insurance is taking a punch.

"I've already received a letter that it's going to go up $20 a month because of the Affordable Care Act and the reinsurance fees and the extra fees that we have to pay," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman says she understands the act was designed to help those who can't afford insurance, but it's a big price to pay.

"We've worked hard every day and we do what needs to be done and we're still paying more than what we have been paying," Zimmerman said.

The Affordable Care Act will require larger businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance or pay fines that could reach up to $2,000 per worker in 2015.

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