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One family’s stake in health reform

Health reform is on the line at the Supreme Court, and next week's decision will impact small business owners like Evan Rosenberg -- and their families.

Health reform is on the line at the Supreme Court, and next week’s decision will impact small business owners like Evan Rosenberg — and their families.



NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The Rosenberg family in Mount Airy, Md., has a lot riding on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on health reform.


The case could determine whether Evan Rosenberg can keep his small business going. It might force his 61-year-old wife, Sue, to return to full-time work. Their college student son could lose his coverage next year. And their daughter’s efforts to launch her own yoga teaching business could hit another road block.


Next week, the Supreme Court will issue its opinion on whether the massive health care overhaul undertaken by President Obama and Congress in 2010 is constitutional. It could strike down provisions Americans already rely on — or plan to.


Just as the far-reaching law has touched the lives of every American, so could the court’s decision.


In the case of the Rosenbergs, it starts with Evan. The 58-year-old self-employed software developer enjoys the challenges and intensity brought by his highly specialized work.


“I love the independence of having my own business,” he said. “I was never interested in getting into a big company. You park your butt in a seat in the office and don’t move for years.”


He has clients all across the country. Companies hire him to develop custom software that helps them transition from old computer systems to new ones, and he works on projects for months or a year at a time.
But Evan’s enterprise, Foggy Bottom Information Systems, is at risk.


A motorcycle accident a decade ago left him with a broken ankle, three surgeries and a pre-existing condition. As a small business owner, he shops for insurance on his own. He pays premiums of nearly $1,800 a month to cover his family of four.


And the cost keeps rising. On Wednesday, he received a letter in the mail saying the monthly bill is set to jump to $2,002 in August.


Evan is hoping a provision in health care reform forcing states to set up insurance exchanges in 2014 will let him shop for cheaper insurance.


He also needs the law for protection it already provides, stopping insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.


If the exchanges provision disappears, Evan says he could be forced to take a full-time job for the insurance. If he can’t find one, the responsibility of providing insurance for the family would shift to his wife, Sue, who would have to spend more hours in the office, a nonprofit horse rescue group.


That would be a set back for her. She spent years working full-time, providing the family’s health insurance, and she only recently scaled back.


“I need the garden. I need the outside. I need to spend time with my dog, my kids, all of that,” Sue said. “I feel like I’ve earned some of this time to myself.”


The law is also buying time for their kids. Neither can afford insurance on their own, and health reform currently forces insurers to let parents cover their kids until they’re 26.


At 22, Michael Rosenberg is a University of Maryland student who is relying on his parents’ insurance.


To him, health reform is not a big issue — for now. He said he’s detached from the burdens of worrying about insurance, but that it will matter more when he’s no longer covered by his father.


“It’s just one of those nagging things I know I’m going to have to deal with in the next few years,” he said.


But it’s quite different for his 24-year-old sister, Virginia, who waits tables at two restaurants in Asheville, N.C., and barely affords food and her $635 rent each month. The law gives her two more years to worry less about any brushes with the emergency room and more time to focus on starting a yoga teaching business of her own.


“It gives me the leeway and freedom to follow my dreams and do the teaching work I want to do,” she said.


Have fears of losing health insurance held you back from quitting your job to launch a business? Email Jose Pagliery and share your story. Click here for the comment policy. To top of page

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