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Steve Chiotakis: All week, as part of our series “The Cure,” we’ve been hearing from different groups about what’s at stake for them in the health care debate. Today, we check in with a small business owner.
But before we hear from him, here’s something to keep in mind: small businesses typically pay more in premiums than big companies. And if one employee is sick or old, that could raise the price of insurance for everyone.
Here’s the story of one small-business owner in Columbia, Md., who’s struggling to provide benefits — without breaking the bank.
Brian England: My name is Brian England, I’ve been in business for 31 years. The name of the company is British American Auto Care and we have 18 employees.
I’ve always felt it’s the right thing to do to provide health insurance. I mean, the health of your workers, they’re the ones who provide you the income. Last year, what I did was start one of these, what do they call them, health savings accounts. What that meant was suddenly people had a $1,500 deductible for the HMO and a $4,000 deductible on the PPO.
The insurance agent called me up and said, “Brian, but you’re lucky.” And I said “Well, why am I lucky?” And he said, “Well, if Jeanette hadn’t left” — and she was 60 years old — “your rates would have gone up an additional 20 percent.” And suddenly the penny dropped here and I thought, my goodness, that is a very sad commentary, because when we go out there looking for insurance and we’re judged on the average age, I’ll have that in the back of my mind and I’m more likely to employ a younger person.
We should not be put in that position, and I think dismantling the whole system is a good idea, I suppose, and I’d love to be out of this whole insurance thing. But I think taking away the employer side of it, I think it’d be too disruptive. I think, you know, we’ve got to try and make it better.
First of all, everybody’s got to provide health care, there should be a personal responsibility for people, say, that are self-employed. You can’t have a situation where my business contributes and the business down the road doesn’t. Get everybody insured, get in preventive care for everybody, and see how it works out.
Because we don’t know how it’s going to work out. I do know one thing, though: if we don’t do anything, it’s going to be a disaster.
Chiotakis: Brian England is the owner of British American Auto Care in Columbia, Md. Part of our series “The Cure,” on the health care debate in America. The segment was produced by Mitchell Hartman.
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