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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Businesswoman: Obamacare Hurting Plans To Expand

Here & Now has been talking with private businesses and also state governments and school districts that have cut hours of employees in response to the Affordable Care Act.

Starting in 2015, larger employers will be required to provide health insurance to employees working 30 hours or more. Those workers will be considered full time.

Kelly Gilreath, owner of Kelly’s Professional Cleaning Service in Greenville, S.C., says she has to cut her workers’ hours and wants the law repealed.

“To make it a law that one person has to pay for another person’s insurance, in my opinion, is not a good thing,” Gilreath told Here & Now.


  • Kelly Gilreath, co-owner of Kelly’s Professional Cleaning Service in Greenville, S.C.



It's HERE AND NOW, and we have been talking with many people with different views about the Affordable Care Act, including one company that is going to increase the hours for its employees in order to provide them with health care and perhaps reduce turnover.

But many companies are cutting hours to below 30 a week so they won't have to provide coverage starting in 2015, as would be required by the Affordable Care Act. One is Kelly's Professional Cleaning Service in Greenville, South Carolina. Kelly Gilreath is president and CEO. She's with us now. Welcome.


HOBSON: So you have said that you're going to have to cut worker hours because of the Affordable Care Act. Tell us about that.

GILREATH: Well, our product is labor. We don't have a tangible product that you put in your hand. And it's a very low-wage and highly competitive industry. You're competing against companies that, you know, they may be bidding for less than 10 percent profit on a contract. It's very competitive.

And whenever Obamacare came about, you have companies such as ours that are working in a low profit-type industry, you can't afford a big hit to those profit dollars when it's so competitive.

HOBSON: Well, I'm sure you've crunched the numbers. What would it actually cost you per employee to provide insurance?

GILREATH: For us to provide insurance for 50 employees would add an additional $142,000 a year to our expenses, at a minimum. And if you took the penalty, you're talking about adding an additional $60,000 a year.

HOBSON: Well, so what are your employees going to do then to get health insurance?

GILREATH: My personal opinion is, I think a lot of them will just opt to not do anything. I went online to try to get an estimate of what, you know, with the new...

HOBSON: With the new exchanges.

GILREATH: Yeah, with the exchanges, but the thing that I read just this week on one of the websites is the expected average per person is $396 a month. And for a person that makes $1,100 a month in income, you know, that's a big hit, and then if you expect the company to pay 60 percent of that, that's a big hit as well.

HOBSON: Well, I'm sure that there are a lot of people who are listening to this who are saying to themselves, well, you know, she says she can't afford it, but really she should be able to help pay for health care for her workers. What would you say to them?

GILREATH: Well, I think when it comes to businesses, I think you should provide an insurance that covers their protection on the job. To require business to provide insurance, I mean it's great, I would love to help everybody, I'm a giver at heart, but the problem is, that's something that you have absolutely no control over their individual lives or what their health insurance specifically is going to entail.

And I think there needs to be some reform, obviously, because insurance has gotten out of control, but to make it a law that one person's got to pay for another person's insurance is, in my opinion, is not a good thing.

HOBSON: Well, so what do you make of this situation that we're in right now, with the government being shut down because many people believe that the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea and should be defunded?

GILREATH: Well, I think they definitely need to go back to the table. They're making laws that shouldn't have anything to do with laws. I do think there needs to be some requirements on insurance and how insurance is handled, you know, and how insurance companies charge, particularly low-income people. But at the same time, I will say this law as it is needs to be reworked. It's not functionable for the employee, it's not functionable for the business.

I even spoke with a local insurance rep earlier. It's not even functional for the small insurance companies.

HOBSON: Do you think it should be repealed?

GILREATH: Yes, I do. I think they need - I think there needs to be reform, but I do think this law needs to be repealed.

HOBSON: Kelly Gilreath is president and CEO of Kelly's Professional Cleaning Service in Greenville, South Carolina. Kelly, thanks for joining us.

GILREATH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • creaker

    I’m sure given the opportunity many employers would also be happy to drop unemployment insurance – and SS and Medicare matches.

  • Cindy C Barnard

    Why are we broadcasting this disinformation? This employer has no
    idea how much healthcare benefits mean to an employee. From my
    experience, it is likely they work for her as a stepping stone to a
    position that offers more security or they can’t find anything else because of a lack of education and opportunity.

    Often businesses like hers experience
    employee churn. Ask her that question.

    Ask her if she makes sure she has health insurance even if she can’t give it to her employees.

    Congress has already been at the table. Have been working for this day for about 50 – 60 years. This plan started with a bi-partisan plan as was already set
    up in a state lead by a Republican.

    The fact that it may need some changes isn’t surprising and the ACA’s imperfections come from both parties on the hill.

    It is clear she really doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I expect more more Here and Now and am so disappointed.

    Please give us some informative news and some alternatives
    about how to enlighten ourselves, to the good and items that need reworking, on the new healthcare law.

  • Bob Pohl

    Your interviewer failed to ask the business proprietor the most obvious question imaginable: namely, does she have health insurance and does her business pay for it? If she receives a tax-deductible benefit that she chooses not to extend to her employees, that casts her supposed altruism and opposition to the Affordable Care Act in an entirely different light.

  • PoliticsWatcher

    Go ahead, cut the hours. More jobs for others.

    Go ahead, get employers out of the business of choosing health insurance for their employees.


  • PoliticsWatcher

    How can Gilreath be running a business if she doesn’t understand the first thing about insurance? Yes, you pay for other people’s problems, and they pay for yours. That’s the whole point.

    She’s either really dumb or really dishonest.

  • nonyabizzz

    she’s ‘a giver at heart’?

    It appears that ‘Here and Now’ subscribes to the David Gregory method of interviewing. Softball questions with no challenging of misinformation.

  • EsterMann

    Kelly Gilbreath mentioned that insuring her 50 workers (I think I’m getting this right) would cost about $150K (I picked that number, I admit; I think her figure was somewhere in the 100K) and if she did not she would be fined — I think she said something like $60K. At that point I think she mentioned something like “on top of the cost.” Check that out, please. I think, if I am not mistaken, that paying the fine is WAY cheaper than insuring her workers.
    I’d, too, like to know if she is insured by her own company — but I do believe that is not legal, unless she insures her workers, too. I had a small business once, and I’m not sure that is correct — but again, uncertain.
    Last, this story followed up with another “Sandy” story about people in NYC having to move out because FEMA was discontinuing payments for housing (and the story did focus on low-income folks). This all seems so absurd to me: I wonder what Kelly Gilbreath would do if her house was washed away by some future storm in SC? Would she insist that the government has no business helping folks like her in time of need? There is always such a double standard to the way we view what is best for society and what individuals should simple do on their own.

    • jomuir

      here in Mich, my DH worked for a small co (10-15 employees). They had insurance, but the owner had MUCH BETTER insurance than the workers for his own family. We found out accidentally when owner missed payment on the policy for the company & we were in communication w/insurer about payments on Dr. visits while we didn’t know insurance wasn’t valid. We dealt w/a high-deductible/co-pay HMO while owner had Cadillac style policy for himself & his family.

  • Carole Reid

    This was a horrible interview. You chose a closed minded, uninformed, greedy person to talk to. Do you even realize what sort of slave work she has her employees doing? I am so en sensed by this. I think she is both dumb (pretending) and dishonest. I rue that “Here and Now” is even on the air. “Talk of the Nation” was a MUCH better program. This is pap. I cannot continue to support public radio with this crap on the air. You did not research this story at all. You are FOX News in disguise. You don’t even understand half the stories you report.

    • Euphoriologist

      Rue? Really?

    • joanna

      I agree with you one hundred percent. Public radio does not do any investigative news stories and does not give us any actual facts. Their whole mantra is he said, she said. Telling both sides of a story, regardless of the truth!

  • Glenn Concerned Citizen

    She said her employees make about $1100/month but would have to pay $395/month for health insurance? Your interviewer has to challenge this statement. That income level is so below the poverty level.

  • MizPat

    Could you possibly have found a more informed business owner from a less RED state. If I used her service I would truly have to think twice about retaining such an ignorant entreprenueur.

  • EisenhowerRepublican

    This lady is an idiot, or she’s willfully uninformed.

    She complains that on the exchange, her $1100-a-month employees can’t afford the average premium. Haven’t you heard about the SUBSIDIES? At the pitifully low salaries you pay, your people will qualify for subsidies for nearly the whole amount. Their health care will be almost free.

    She says she can’t afford to comply with the law, because she has such tough competitors. She has to bid against them for contracts! But your competitors are subject to the same law, with the same requirements.


    We should have let South Carolina secede.

  • Joanna

    This comment is directed towards the owner of Kelly’s professional cleaning service in Greenville
    South Carolina and to the people who produce Word of Mouth. I really wish the person who interviewed Kelly Gilreath had the smarts to point out that the uninsured Americans out there cause the price of medical expenses and insurance to rise substiantially for all the insured Americans out there thus putting a dent into their paychecks as well!

  • Joanna

    The interview with Kelly Gilreath is just atypical of Word of Mouth and NPR and it’s low quality news programs. They take someone for example like Kelly Gilreath who is clueless and ill informed( probably from listening to NPR) and create a mindless interview. Get a grip NPR! Stop producing bubble gum interviews!

  • Jim in Alabam

    I read the comments with interest and most had a similar reaction to mine that no one challenged Ms Gilreath’s numbers or questioned her own access to insurance. First, employees making $1100 per month fall under the federal poverty line for a household of 1 in South Carolina (according to the Kaiser insurance estimator) and thus do not qualify for Obamacare. She would pay no penalty as I understand it because employers only pay penalties for employees who sign up at a health exchange, which hers cannot do at that pay scale. If she paid her employees enough (about $1300/month for a household of 1) for them to qualify for the health exchange then she would have to pay a penalty of $2000 for each employee who signed up. If all 50 signed up her penalty would run $40000, not $60000. Her poor (in more ways than one) employees – they can’t get health care from her, Obamacare or Medicaid (since South Carolina decided against Medicaid expansion).

    • EisenhowerRepublican

      The poverty level for a household of one is $11,800, no? This is the figure I’ve found. If correct, the employees qualify for subsidies. If it’s lower in South Carolina, they would still qualify.

  • Corinne

    The woman that Jeremy interviews said she looked up figures last week re how much it was going to cost her to insure her employees.
    Since the website/calculators did not open until yesterday, I wondered what website age consulted to get her information.
    I wondered if she had any concerns about inaccurate information.
    My understanding is that government subsidies are in place to assist small businesses like hers.
    I wondered why Jeremy did not ask her for the sources she used to gather her info

  • joewo

    Because poor people don’t get sick. Right? I mean they never need a doctor…and they really don’t need a paycheck good enough to buy insurance on their own without subsidy. This woman says she is a giver and I am sure if given a chance to pay her workers less than Minimum wage she would GIVE that a try too…because she is a giver. Fortunately we live in a nation where the sick don’t need insurance because they just…don’t…get…sick. Nor do they need a job paying enough to get it themselves.

    Done and done….

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