Tuesday, December 7

Small Businesses Hurt By Rising Health Care Costs

The cost of healthcareSmall businesses are finding it difficult to keep up with rising health insurance costs sweeping the nation.

The National Small Business Association did a recent survey of over 800 small businesses and found that most of those offering health benefits saw them as necessary for recruiting and retaining workers.

About 90% of those business owners reported an increase in costs in their last renewal. Only 41% of companies with zero to five employees are now offering health coverage, and the concern is that with costs on the rise, even larger small businesses will have to cut back.

This survey was only “the tip of the iceberg when it comes to health-care costs for small businesses,” Rick Murray, the CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association, told the East Arizona Courier. “Although business owners are adjusting and staying afloat right now, rising health-care costs are the single biggest threat to profitability and are limiting economic growth,” he explained.

“I think that, especially for small businesses that are required to provide health-care insurance, those costs, unfortunately, are going to go up due to the mandates under Obamacare,” said Kevin Peck, director of the Small Business Development Center at Eastern Arizona College.

“Businesses that are under 50 employees do not have to provide those health care opportunities for their employees; those mandates are only for businesses that have 50 employees or more,” Peck continued. “Fortunately or unfortunately for us in the Gila Valley, a large portion of our small businesses fall underneath that 50-employee mandate. So we may not see the impact locally that we might see in other areas.”

Businesses that have under 50 employees are still able to offer health insurance in some cases, Peck added. Many do, thanks to simple statistics that show the benefits: vaccines are proven to prevent over 2.5 million deaths every year.

“They’re not required to, but sometimes it’s a matter of just being a good employer and wanting to offer some benefits to employees. I think that’s definitely an option, and it would usually be offered to full-time versus part-time,” Peck said.

Tim Taylor is an executive vice president and manager at DRG Technologies. He says that businesses are simply trying to keep up at this point. It has come to the point where his own company has had to make the tough decision between reducing benefits or paying significantly higher premiums.

Taylor adds that they are able to give their employees the choice between higher premium plans and higher deductible plans, but they are still struggling.

“Last year, the high deductible insurance was, I think, $1,500 per person, $3,000 per family,” he said. “If we keep that this year, then the premiums go up quite a bit. We’re also looking at a $3,000/$6,000 deductible,” he said.

However, that doesn’t stop Taylor’s business from offering benefits to employees. “As a company, we feel like we need to do everything that we can to provide our employees with meaningful and competitive health insurance,” he said.

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