A small business owner's view of the health care proposal


Kelli Glasser fights an annual battle to provide health care to her Ohio firm's workers.

Every year, the price of health insurance rises. Every year, she has to trim benefits or increase out-of-pocket costs for employees so her firm, Exhibit Concepts, can continue offering a health plan.

This summer, details of health care reform legislation have brought her new worries. And, she fears, new potential costs for her business. Other small businesses are also calculating what Washington legislation would do to their bottom lines.

A key provision in the current House reform legislation would require businesses to provide insurance to their workers or pay a penalty to the government. Some small firms – though probably not Glasser's -- would be exempted.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a trade group for small businesses, has strongly opposed this employer mandate, saying it will cost jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also opposes it. The Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, is working on a compromise provision that could be more palatable to businesses.

Health care is an especially thorny problem for small firms. They pay on average of 18 percent more than larger companies for similar benefits plans, according to the NFIB. The price tag of insurance is a major reason why far fewer small businesses offer coverage than larger businesses.