Businesses relieved by extended health care deadline

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter , Hailey Winslow

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The business community in Jacksonville is reacting to news that it now has some breathing room before the health care shift officially takes place.

President Barack Obama on Thursday announced a proposal that allows Americans to keep their individual insurance plans for one more year.

Some business owners say they were days away from the deadline given to them to find another health care provider.

Jeff Burger, who owns Celestial Travel Agency in Jacksonville, said he didn't even try logging on to Instead, he's been in contact with his insurance company directly. He said he was just a few days away from the Nov. 25 government deadline that's now been extended.

"I'm glad we now have a year because that will give insurance companies in conjunction with the government time to work out a more Laissez-faire operation," Burger said.

President Obama told the nation he's not a perfect man nor a perfect president, admitting his administration "fumbled the rollout" of the Affordable Health Care Act.

"I think it's fair to say the rollout has been rough so far, and I think everybody understands I am not happy," Obama said. "The fact that the rollout has so many problems, I'm deeply concerned about that."

The fix the president is presenting, however, is not completely in his control because the administration is not requiring insurers to extend existing plans, only asking them to.

Financial expert Carolyn McClanahan doesn't expect any problems in the state of Florida.

"These insurance companies, we hope they acquire and take care of people buying policies from them, especially because the policies don't have to meet the laws of the new policies," McClanahan said.

Burger only hopes this year isn't like the last, filled with politics.

"Hopefully we'll have more time to find a more bipartisan solution to this problem now that we have time to think about it and debate about it," Burger said. "I'm happy about that possibility."

Former insurance agent Cheryl Carlyle, who now owns a medical equipment company called Duramed Mobility of Florida, said she is not happy with the president's latest admissions. She said she will no longer get to choose her family's health insurance plans, and her premiums are going way up.

"I don't know for the first time in my life whether I'm going to be able to afford health care insurance for my family," Carlyle said. "I don't think this was the purpose of the law. My premiums were going from $5,800 over $13,000."

That's what insurance agent Matt Carlucci says is so eye-opening.

"I think that's been a surprise to the consumer," he said. "It certainly has been a surprise to me as I've been trying to get prices for my employees here at my office."

That can sometimes be difficult when trying to navigate through the ACA's website. Carlucci said he's had a lot of luck calling a health insurance broker. He said it's no extra cost and takes the burden off him.

"What a lot of people don't realize is you can still call a health insurance broker and they know what to do, and they'll go through and put you a plan together through the Affordable Care Act," Carlucci said.

He said what's great about the act is it covers everybody, regardless of preexisting conditions. But Carlyle doesn't see that as a good thing, and she's upset the problems the president has acknowledged aren't being fixed fast enough.

"I don't need maternity coverage, I don't want pharmacy coverage," she said. "Those were my choices, and I could afford insurance for my family with my choices. I'm not quite sure how he's going to pull this off."

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