Small Business Letter From America – healthcare headache

No one questions that small businesses are a key driver of the American economy. But US small business owners face a critical hurdle: healthcare costs.
The National Federation of Independent Business, quoted …

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23rd July 2008 at 8:32 am

uspostageNo one questions that small businesses are a key driver of the American economy. But US small business owners face a critical hurdle: healthcare costs.

The National Federation of Independent Business, quoted by Zane Safrit, has the count.

Of the 47 million Americans without health insurance, more than 28 million are small business owners, employees and their dependents. Under current law they generally do not enjoy the same tax treatment, coverage or pooling options as large businesses and corporations; on average, they pay 18% more for the same healthcare benefits. On top of this, over the last eight years, insurance premiums have increased an alarming 129%.

This problem hits the economy where it hurts: innovation and small business. Because of arcane rules about switching health insurance carriers, especially with pre-existing conditions, many people stick with a less-than-challenging or less-than-motivating job because they must to keep their coverage. And because of the astounding costs of buying individual or small group policies, lots of small businesses just don’t provide any coverage at all.

Jon Swanson shared the story of one small business owner who had to sell out after 15 years. Her husband developed lung cancer, so she was in great need of health insurance. Her small business couldn’t pay to cover her whole family, so she turned to a job that could. Unfortunately, it also means she’s locked into that job. She can’t go anywhere until probably retirement. She’s not working where she can provide her best service; she’s working to try to protect her family.

Why doesn’t US law give small business the same treatment as big business? Well, to be blunt, big business contributes more to political candidates than small business. That’s my opinion. With all the other issues in front of them, I don’t expect our political leaders to make changes any time soon, no matter which presidential candidate is elected. But at least we’ve managed to get them talking about it.

Becky McCray

Becky is a small town entrepreneur in America. She writes about small business and rural issues, based on her own success and failures, at her blog Small Biz Survival. She is the co-owner of a small town retail liquor store and cattle ranch. She also helps tourism related businesses from Oklahoma to Africa to maintain their web presence and rural nonprofits and governments with grant writing and project administration. http://www.smallbizsurvival.com/

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  1. Becky, it just occurred to me. Thanks in part to the social web, Obama seems to have raised huge campaign funding from grass roots supporters. Many of these must be small business owners. I wonder whether this might change anything … probably a naive hope, but thought I’d mention it.

  2. Becky McCray says:

    Alex, it couldn’t hurt! I don’t think either candidate would ignore the health care cost issue as president, but I am more impressed by the way Obama has included small business in his health care insurance proposals. Zane Safrit did a short commentary on it here: http://is.gd/11zs

  3. Jen says:

    I too hope for a better health care scenario. The negative effects are just too grim without a positive solution for the backbone of our country-Small business.

    Jen Thomas
    Muvar Software

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