The 27 million small business owners across this nation are holding their breath in anticipation following the Supreme Court’s wrapping up of its arguments over President Obama’s landmark health care law. There are many who oppose it, and just as many who favor it. But, whether in favor or against, Democrat or Republican, one fact is certain for all those who are self-employed: something needs to be done to lower skyrocketing health care coverage and provide clarity on exactly how the new law will impact us.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) allows for businesses with fewer than 25 employees to qualify for tax credits of up to 35 percent in order to lower the cost of purchasing health insurance. This Act applies to about 4 million businesses. Companies that don’t buy into a plan for full-time employees will face financial penalties. What small business owners need for any plan to work is true savings in their costs. I have found entrepreneurs are uncertain as to how new laws may impact them. As there is just so much confusion in the marketplace right now, clarity and better dissemination of information are crucial at this point.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in 2011, only 57 percent of businesses with 50 or less workers provided health care benefits, and that is largely because of the high costs. Larger businesses have even had a hard time paying for health care for their employees, and are feeling strangled by the costs of health insurance. I had dinner recently with an entrepreneur who has 300 employees, pays $20,000 a month in health care premiums, and is about to start paying $50,000 a month in premiums. She is hoping for some relief and fears she may go out of business if her premiums don’t go down.
Small businesses, of which about 37 percent are owned fully or in part by women, are anxious for answers when it comes to health care laws. And they need these answers – as well as financial relief from the high costs of premiums – right now.
After all, the economy is on the uptick. Unemployment claims are down, and more and more jobs are being created. This is wonderful news. But here is the downside for small business owners; as the economy improves and good workers in all fields will once again have their pick of jobs, they will be less likely to go with a small company that doesn’t offer health care or has minimal coverage, versus a larger company with more generous benefits. If the new law can truly help small business owners provide good, quality health care at an affordable rate, then it will allow the moms-and-pops of the world to compete with the big guys for the best and brightest talent in the workplace.
For now, we will wait and see. But whether the high court strikes down the law or not, small business owners are hungry for some relief and better understanding. We want to do what is just and right by our employees, without breaking the bank.
Let our voices be heard.