Health Care Reform to Small Business: Friend of Foe?

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Despite what you may have heard, there are some small business owners who support the Democrats’ health care reform proposals – including the eight who signed their names to a Health Care for America Now press release that landed in my inbox today. (HCAN is a grassroots pro-reform group.) In my latest story, I explore whether Congressional health care reform proposals are good or bad for entrepreneurs. I examined the Democrats’ health care reform legislation and talked to a lot of policy wonks and lobbyists, but, regardless of where you stand on reform, there’s nothing like a real world example to bring the health care cost crisis into focus.

One of the signers of the HCAN letter was David Borris, the owner of a business in Illinois called Hel’s Kitchen Catering. Borris provides health insurance for about half of his 23 employees – and covers nearly all of the premiums. Borris’s Aetna small group policy will cost $143,000 in 2010, up from $96,000 in 2009, unless he makes dramatic changes to coverage or shifts costs onto his employees. Like many small businesses, his high costs are partly due to his aging workforce and the expensive health needs of a few of those enrolled in his plan. In the past decade, as his health insurance costs have more than doubled, Borris has had to become an expert in how health insurance works. Although he says he’d much rather expend his energy developing new recipes, Borris spent 90 minutes yesterday with his accountant and insurance broken pouring over policy options. “This is more than I ever really wanted to know,” he told me.