Small Businesses Struggle to Offer Healthcare

Some say government should offer helping hand

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BUSDistressSuitUmbrella_edited-1As the Congressional debate over healthcare reform persists, small business owners are left to fend for themselves and hope for curing relief.

Charles Ewing Sr., owner of Ewing Moving Service Inc. & Storage in Memphis, Tennessee is among those left to bear the burden of high premium and coverage costs.  The small business owner, whose company saw revenues of $3 million this past year, has eliminated healthcare insurance for all but five of his 47 full-time employees.

“We’re planning to offer our employees the amount of cash that we would pay for healthcare to them as a bonus,” says Ewing, 50, who started the company in 1980. “They can purchase their own healthcare and get it cheaper.”

BlueCross/BlueShield is Ewing Moving Service’s insurance provider and the cost is split 50/50 between the company and staff for single coverage.  Ewing says he came to his decision as premium costs rose 15% to 20% annually. While insured employees were paying half of the $224 per month, Ewing’s bill to insure his employees peaked at $3,600 monthly.  He says he even shopped around to another insurance provider, Humana, but to no avail because although Humana’s rates were cheaper, since some employees have preexisting health conditions, Ewing would be charged more.

Ewing says because of the rise in healthcare costs, it is difficult for him to recruit new employees because the benefits package is not attractive enough to compete. And he is not alone in his efforts.

According to Aflac Inc., the largest provider of supplemental insurance in the United States, small business owners are taking drastic measures to remedy their company’s insurance dilemma.  Their study, “Small Business: Now More Than Ever,” led by Accelerant Research interviewed small businesses with five to 99 employees, not home-based and with annual revenues of at least $100,000.

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  • Simone,

    I thinks it’s interesting to look back at articles every so often and see what has changed, if anything. And while it’sonly been 2 months since your article was published, not much progress has been made. There is one point that I would like to bring up that is unfortunate, at best. If left unchecked it could grow into a terrible situation.

    While it is admirable that Ewing Moving Services give a bonus in lieu of providing insurance in hopes that their employees would find their own coverage. One could speculate that they are setting a large number of their employees up for failure.

    In these difficult times… a bonus will be seen as just that, a bonus. Extra money to pay bills, Holiday pocketbook relief orjust the ability to make there be a little bit less month at the end of the money is most likely what any bonus will be seen as.

    As a fitness professional and 27 year veteran of the health and wellness industry, I think that there should be much more talk about affordable preventative care. Not necessarily gym memberships (that’s fine) but programs that will affectpeoples liveson the front end that are easily implemented and cost effective.

    Sorry this is so long but whenyou really think about it, we’re talking about peoples lives. I think that lives of my brothers and sisters all across the country are more important than politics.

    Thanks for reading,

    Scott G. Smith

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