Rising premiums = Tough choices
|Offering Health Benefits
Alan Sayler, owner of Sayler's Suncoast Water in Pinellas Park, a water conditioning company for homes and businesses, looked at dropping group coverage after a 33% increase in 2011 brought his per employee premium to $436 a month (of which he pays $296). If "any other vendor increased their costs like that, you would be yelling and screaming," Sayler says. Having recovered from prostate cancer in 2000, Sayler had trouble finding an individual policy for himself; one of his employees with a pre-existing condition would have had an individual policy premium that was "outrageously expensive." So Sayler elected to keep group coverage for himself and his two full-time employees. A particular object of Sayler's ire is what he sees as Washington's intrusion in the marketplace and specifically the healthcare bill Congress passed in 2010.
"There's a lot of uncertainty until the Supreme Court rules on the healthcare reform law," says Ken Stevenson, legislative chair for the Florida Association of Health Underwriters who's with the Earl Bacon agency in Tallahassee.
The new healthcare law includes a tax credit for small-business owners, but it has proved difficult to obtain. Says Lago, "It's not easy to do that, but there's a nice benefit if you can." Hurley's firm didn't qualify — not enough lower-paid workers.
Hurley doesn't like to think of a repeat in 2012 of higher deductibles, lesser benefits and premium increases. "If that continues this year, it's not a pretty situation."
|The Case for a Plan B