VP Biden & Silbelius Hear Health Care Woes from Small Biz Owners

08/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius met today at the White House with small business leaders, who came to share their health insurance woes. Once again, the picture became crystal clear: we must fix the health care system in the U.S. and we must do it this year.

It's not just an economic imperative, the Vice President said. It's a moral issue as well.

The five small business owners, who joined an audience of many more, told Biden about the sharp increases they've seen in insurance premiums (upwards of 40 percent in the last three years alone). They also spoke about the guilt they feel when they cannot offer their employees' families insurance coverage.

One woman told the Vice President that she and her husband and three children have no insurance. When her son, a teenager who plays sports, broke his arm a year or two ago, the hospital bill came to a whopping $17,000.

Even when employees have insurance, the co-pays, deductibles and unreimbursed fees can add up to thousands of dollars a year.

Clearly, the Vice President said, many Americans lay awake at night, tossing and turning, worrying about what happens if they get sick.

Secretary Sibelius noted that even though we spend more than most countries on health care, we aren't the healthiest of nations. For the first time in recent history, she said, we face the real possibility that our children's generation will face a worse health profile than the present generation.