Small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the US are facing impossible choices because of the skyrocketing costs of health insurance premiums, and, in many cases, the lack of access to coverage. Here are some of their stories.
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Harper Engineering | Cleveland, Ohio
Ohio business owner able to plow
savings back into his business
Ohio business owner able to plow savings back into his business
Since the day he first hung out his shingle in 2003, David Harper has covered the entire cost of health insurance for his employees.
Itâ€™s not cheapâ€”he paid $60,000 in premiums in 2010â€”but itâ€™s necessary. Harperâ€™s business, Harper Engineering, specializes in telecom facilities design. In order to compete with larger companies in his field for quality engineers, he offers full insurance, knowing they do not.
"You canâ€™t hire without offering medical coverage. Itâ€™s expected in the industry,"
said Harper, who has one part-time and seven full-time employees. â€śMy attitude is when I give people a raise, I want it to be a real raise. I donâ€™t want to say hereâ€™s $50 more, but our insurance rates went up at the same time.â€ť
But the rates do rise and Harper absorbs them year after year. Now, however, heâ€™s getting some relief for the first time.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law a year ago, contains a provision that allows employers to claim a tax credit for up to 35 percent of their insurance premiums in 2010. As a result, Harper is getting $3,000 back this year. He plans to use that money to buy computer equipment for his business.
Itâ€™s nice, Harper said, to get some help to provide benefits that keep his business competitive.