Pennies, nickels and dimes.
When you’re a small-business owner, that’s often what it comes down to.
And when you’re one of the more than 2 million small businesses eyeing potentially higher health insurance expenses, those pennies, nickels and dimes start to mean even more.
But that’s exactly what could happen if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act survives a ruling by the Supreme Court and a key component of it gets passed on to small businesses across the country.
In fact, the new Health Insurance Tax (HIT) will tax health insurance companies $87 billion in assessments between 2014 and 2019, and in order to bear the burden of the HIT, health insurance companies will be forced to raise premiums. But the cost of the HIT will be disguised because it will be folded into higher premiums that small businesses pay.
It’s certainly an issue that has garnered attention, and business leaders around the area gathered earlier this week to learn more about the potential effects the tax would have on them.
A lot of their information came from members of the national “Stop the HIT Coalition,” which has organized other meetings in the state to spread the word about the tax. While the group has said it isn’t in favor of seeing the health care law repealed completely, members do want lawmakers to review parts of it, including the HIT.
Sadly, the tax only affects small businesses. Big companies that offer their own insurance policies won’t be subject to the tax, and that’s one of the sticking points of the coalition: It’s simply not fair for large corporations to be exempt from a tax that small businesses will be forced to pay.
Again, it’s back to those pennies, nickels and dimes for small businesses, which many agree are the backbone of a strong economy.
Take Tom Susman, for example. He’s a small-business owner in Charleston who said the family insurance policies offered through his business will go up $5,000 over 10 years once the HIT kicks in. That’s an increase of $500 per year.
“For small businesses to survive, it’s pennies, dimes and nickels,” Susman said. “Five hundred dollars a year may not seem like much, but that’s a multiplying impact.”
With the health care law in limbo pending a ruling from the Supreme Court, some lawmakers are taking notice. A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives to repeal the HIT. That bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. David McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito, both R-W.Va., and a small-business relief bill has been proposed to include a full repeal of the HIT.
Let’s face it — if the HIT isn’t changed in some way, those pennies, nickels and dimes won’t stretch nearly as far as they do now, ultimately leading to some tough decisions for small businesses across the country. Here in the Mountain State, where 97 percent of companies are small businesses, the impact likely would be catastrophic.
We urge lawmakers to look closely at all the options, and especially at a possible repeal of the Health Insurance Tax. The economy simply can’t afford to lose its backbone.
Pennies, nickels and dimes.
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