(The opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the New Hampshire Journal. The Journal welcomes opinions on all sides of issues and from all candidates for office.)
By BRUCE BERKE
Anyone who runs a small business, or works for a small business, in New Hampshire is encountering the pain of renewing his or her group health insurance plan. Many New Hampshire businesses are faced with paying anywhere from 20 to 40% increases in their insurance premiums and the blame lies squarely with the federal government program we have come to know as ObamaCare.
Of course, we knew this was coming but we had hoped that it wouldn’t hurt so bad. The government’s own actuaries affirmed earlier this year, through a report released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that 65% of people who work for small businesses will see premium increases due to the law’s community rating requirement.
Additional requirements and taxes have accelerated cost increases further. With their relatively younger and healthier employees – small businesses are the number one most damaged group under ObamaCare.
The actuaries’ findings are, unfortunately, consistent with National Federation of Independent Business’s own research into the impact of the healthcare law. We predicted last year that premium increases for the small business community would be driven by community rating, a mandatory minimum benefit package and new taxes rolled into premiums.
A recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is the fourth in a row to conclude that ObamaCare is strangling businesses. According to the survey, the health-care law is prompting a significant number of businesses to cut employees, hike health care costs for employees and even raise prices for customers.
This year, 49% of businesses surveyed told the Dallas Fed that ObamaCare is raising their health care costs for employees a lot; 55% expect it to raise costs in 2015. Almost all companies surveyed admit that the health-care law is making it more difficult to offer employees health coverage.
On top of rising health insurance premiums, ObamaCare will hit businesses with increased taxes as well. Both are likely to increase drastically several years down the road. The Cadillac tax, which targets expensive health care plans, will take effect in 2018. And ObamaCare built in some premium hike-relief for the first several years, but that’s due to run out in 2016.
This all spells trouble for our small business community at a time when our New Hampshire economy lags behind other New England states. We can’t stand still anymore and hope that things get better. The small business community must take action and insist that our elected officials repeal ObamaCare and advocate for free market solutions in health care.
(Bruce Berke is the New Hampshire state director for the National Federation for Independent Business.)