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It's about time somebody noticed that Obamacare promises everything under the sun but actually delivers very little. Today's Star-Ledger exposes the fallacy behind the much touted "cost savings" supposedly coming to small business owners.
Rich Balka says he's tried almost everything to keep health insurance for his workers.
In recent years, the Trenton business owner has laid off one-third of his workforce, trimmed benefits and switched insurance carriers.
His next step may be to drop insurance altogether. With premiums for his 32 employees jumping by nearly 20 percent this year, to a total of $71,000, Balka says he faces a tough choice: Dump the benefits or go broke.
As the smoke clears following the passage of Obama's landmark healthcare reform, New Jersey small-business owners like Balka are coming to realize there is little help when it comes to rising healthcare costs. With the recession continuing to bite into business, many cash-strapped smaller employers may be forced to drop their coverage, said John Sarno, president of the Employers Association of New Jersey.
"Even with the healthcare reform, premiums in New Jersey are just too high," Sarno said.
The healthcare reform has been touted by Obama and lawmakers as being friendly to small businesses. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with fewer than 25 workers can receive tax credits to help pay for healthcare.
But some employers in New Jersey will slip through the cracks. Balka, for example, has too many employees to qualify for tax credits. But even if he was eligible, the incentive would do little to offset rising premiums, he added.
Premiums in New Jersey are among the highest in the nation and are rising much faster than any tax credits or other incentives that might be used to offset them. Since 2000 average healthcare premiums have increased by more than 75% per worker. There is nothing to indicate those increases won't continue indefinitely.
The only potential relief for escalating costs might come from the "insurance exchanges" planned for sometime after 2014. But New Jersey already has one. Established in 2000 to help small businesses obtain group coverage it's rates are now the highest in the state. As a bellwether for our future it doesn't exactly engender confidence.
Mr. Balka wrote to President Obama about his predicament. He got a form
letter in response. Thanks Barry, it's nice to know you care.
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