The Bay View Compass is the local monthly print newspaper in the Bay View neighborhood. And the June addition has a very notable feature on well know Bay View fixture, Hans Billerbeck. Mr. Billerbeck ran a high quality personal service tailor shop in Bay View for like ever…always great service and I wish him well in retirement.

But that isn’t why I am mentioning Mr. Billerbeck. His wife Sharon helped in the shop with customer service and bookkeeping and such until:

Sharon Billerbeck worked with her husband during the first 20 years in Bay View. “My wife came in with the kids. She helped with the paperwork. Took care of the customers. We worked hard,” Billerbeck said.

After college Sharon taught in the Elm Grove school system until the couple’s children were born. In the mid 90’s, the skyrocketing cost of health insurance for small business owners forced the couple to change course.

“We got to the point where the insurance was so high we couldn’t stand it anymore. We were paying $1,600 a month for health insurance. $1,600 with a $2,000 deductible — and that was 20 years ago,” Sharon said. “It was terrible because we weren’t with a (big) group. We were with a small group…the number of people in our family. The family was your group. I missed teaching so I said, ‘I could go and sub a couple of days a week.’ And then I found out that if you do so many hours over a school year, you can get (health) insurance the next year. So then I started doing that. I subbed in Milwaukee for 14 and a half years.

Think about that for a minute. A family has a small business in the heart of a residential area but the high cost of health insurance premiums forces one of the spouses to take employment outside of the family business. THIS WAS 20 YEARS AGO.

Every politician of almost every stripe will tout the advantages of small business with the hopes that they will grow and create new jobs. But yet they are willing to let them struggle with little or no health care because we as a nation have no desire to make sure every American had affordable health insurance.

How much easier would it be if every American had health insurance? How many Americans could pursue their dreams if they didn’t have to worry about health insurance? How many small businesses could grow and take on employees if they knew that all potential employees had access to health insurance? How many Americans would take on jobs in small or start up businesses if they didn’t have to worry about where they were going to get health insurance.

And this isn’t imaginary…here we have a real life example of a health insurance situation that may have limited the growth of the business…or at minimum reduced some of the joy in it since the tailor’s wife had to work elsewhere to garner insurance…instead of working side by side with her husband.

As a nation we can insure everyone. We can afford to do that. We just need the political wherewithal to get it done!

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