Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Entrepreneurs need health care reform

This weekend, The Seattle Times wished to recognize the one hundred top-performing public companies in the Northwest in their annual Northwest 100 ranking. Not surprisingly, yet still sad, it seems that for the first time in the eighteen-year life of the list, less than one hundred companies qualified for the honor. The list topped out at only 87 companies.

Should this news make us worry that our region is losing its competitive edge or that we are no longer a center of innovation? Or perhaps the change in the Northwest economy is indicative of what's going on in other parts of the country?

One thing is for sure, if any region wants to nurture the fledgling businesses necessary to flesh out our country's emaciated job market, it will need to solve the problem of health care. The high cost of insuring their employees is reported to be the number one problem small businesses face.

Ever-rising premiums squelch small companies’ growth potential and can make starting a new business a non-starter for those entrepreneurs who can’t risk potentially going without health insurance. Attracting good employees is hard for small businesses that can’t afford to offer competitive health care plans because they have to pay higher insurance premiums than their larger counterparts.
Small businesses typically pay 18% more for health insurance than big companies, which can use their purchasing power to drive down the cost of coverage, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, a health policy research foundation. And the number of small firms that provide health insurance to their employees has been shrinking every year: 59% in 2007, down from 68% in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of the 46 million uninsured in the U.S., 27 million are small business owners, their employees or their dependents.
America admires entrepreneurs, people who work hard and take risks, but the ranks of our entrepreneurs will grow even thinner if we ask them to risk their health and that of their employees in order to start a new venture.

Health care reform is necessary for the well-being of Americans, but it is also necessary for the well-being of America's economy. Progressives are advocating for a single-payer system. It would certainly give new business owners one less thing to worry about.


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