ACA Decision: Much at Stake for Small Businesses

Millions of small business owners, and their tens of millions of employees, will be greatly impacted by tomorrow’s US Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.  The enormous benefits that the ACA provides–expanding coverage options, lowering costs and giving consumers, not insurance companies, control over their own health care, to name a few–hang in the balance.  Small business owner Louisa McQueeney, who is the CFO of Palm Beach Groves, an orange shipping business in Lantana, Florida, knows this all too well.  Last week, The Miami Herald published Louisa’s op-ed about the devastating effect a bad ruling would have on her business.

The simple fact is, the healthcare law is saving our business serious money and saving our healthcare benefits. Rolling it back would be a real blow — it could spell the end of our healthcare benefits, and push more small business employees into bankruptcy.

I’ve spent the past 12 years at Palm Beach Groves, a small orange shipping business in South Florida. As general manager, I’ve seen our health insurance premiums increase by double-digits every year for a decade. Renewal season has always been a nerve-wracking time, as the decision to continue providing health coverage — and how much of the cost to shift onto employees — gets harder every year. Our staff hasn’t seen a raise in more than seven years because any extra income goes to pay for our rising insurance premiums.

Then along came “Obamacare.”

Last November, our health insurance agent called with our renewal: after annual increases of 12 percent, 22 percent, and even 32 percent, our premiums in 2012 would increase by a grand total of . . . 0.2 percent. Zero point two — ie, flat.

I was floored. And this flat renewal came with exactly the same plan — no dumbing down the coverage, no increase in our deductibles, everything was the same.

Then, at tax time, we qualified for the health law’s small business tax credit. This credit cut our total healthcare costs by about 10 percent, or $7,400, in 2011.


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