July 28, 2009 – 9:36 am
By Peter Fenn
I just love the Republicans’ rhetoric on how they stand up for small businesses.
Democrats propose any kind of tax on millionaires and it suddenly becomes an attack on “America’s small businesses.” We try and put together a healthcare plan that makes it possible to keep costs down for small businesses and allows them to insure employees and it becomes about “big government.”
Democrats go after Goldman Sachs for their average salaries of $900,000 when unemployment is nearing 10 percent and we are “socialists.” Democrats complain that Goldman received over $10 billion last year in bailout money, parlay that into $5.1 in first-quarter profits and prepare to shell out $11.4 billion to their executives so far this year and we are attacking the capitalist system.
Now we find out that Goldman has a Cadillac of a healthcare plan that costs over $40,000, just less than the average American family makes in a year. This plan is truly amazing — no co-pays, no deductibles, no cost for prescriptions and don’t worry about pre-existing conditions. And, of course, all free — and it is not taxed, all deductible. Now, tell me, how does that help our small businesses?
Here are the facts on small businesses: 1. Firms with fewer than 20 employees account for 18 percent of private-sector jobs but almost 25 percent of net employment growth in the past 15 years; 2. However, small businesses pay nearly 20 percent more for the same health insurance policy than larger firms because of broker fees, administrative costs and adverse selection; 3. While 99 percent of firms with over 200 employees offer health insurance only 49 percent of firms with three to nine employees do.
Furthermore, there has been a decrease from 2002 to 2008 of small businesses (three to nine employees) offering health insurance — 58 percent down to 49 percent.
Now, explain to me how this is working so well for small businesses. Since I started my firm over 25 years ago I have paid 100 percent of my employees’ health plans. I was glad to do it and lucky enough to be successful. But, like all small-business owners, I have seen those costs rise considerably. My partner and I saw first-hand how pre-existing conditions can raise the costs; we watched as our premiums went up over the years much faster than inflation or the cost of living. Again, we are fortunate that we can afford it, but many small businesses cannot.
To say that we can’t afford health insurance reform is counterintuitive — we cannot afford not to pass real change to the current system. Small business deserves it and needs it — now. Republicans should get on board and really help America’s small businesses.
© 2009 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc.