Business owners learn about healthcare reform - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Business owners learn about healthcare reform

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By Tyler Profilet - bio | email

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Some business owners in Poplar Bluff say federal healthcare reform leaves them with more questions than answers.

That's why the chamber of commerce brought in the Missouri Foundation for Health.

Maryrose Stricker has owned Pack's Do-It Center in Poplar Bluff for 35 years.

She offers health insurance to all of her 22 employees.  But the rising cost of insurance is cutting into her bottom line.

"Any type of a profit margin I might have made that year, possibly, is eaten up by insurance premiums, and that's not right. But this is the way it is across the country," she said.

The numbers in Missouri back her up.  Insurance premiums in the state have skyrocketed in the past decade.  From 2000-2007, on average employers paid nearly $4,000 more per employee, a 72.1 percent increase in premiums

Workers paid more than $1,200 more, a 91.2 percent increase.

Thomas McAuliff with the Missouri Foundation for Health says there's no guarantee that won't continue.

"A glaring hole in the legislation is that there is nothing that stops the cost of insurance premiums from going up the way they have before," McAuliff said.

But there are pieces of the legislation that small businesses like, such as the health insurance exchange, where employers can pick the coverages they want to offer and get a price based on those benefits.

"It's a marketplace. What insurer you want to go with, what kind of product you want is all up to you to decide," said McAuliff.

Starting this year, there is at least some savings to be had.

"I will get a credit on my insurance premiums that I do pay for my employees," Stricker said. "And right there, that's concrete savings to a small business person."

Another one of the complaints against the legislation is the amount of additional paperwork employers will be responsible for.

Some pieces of the legislation will be implemented as early as September, while other pieces of reform won't become mandatory until 2014.

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