Much has been said lately by Elizabeth Edwards and others about individuals who would be in trouble under the McCain health care plan. But they aren’t the only ones. McCain’s plan could very well leave the engine of America’s economy out in the cold as well — small businesses.
Small businesses face significant barriers in getting and keeping health insurance. Recent survey data from the National Federal of Independent Business bear this out, with 81 percent of small business owners indicating that “finding affordable healthcare” is a challenge, with 16 percent calling it was their biggest challenge.
The reason is that small businesses do not have enough people to create a “stable risk pool.” That’s insurance gibberish for simply saying that, if just one employee develops a catastrophic disease or has a major accident, then the insurance company loses money on that small business. In the insurance marketplace, small businesses don’t have it much easier than individuals.
To help small businesses, the majority of states take steps to cap premium rates within a certain range (technically called a “rate band”), and many states will also cap the annual increase in premiums. As research from Georgetown University shows, some states have strong protections, like California. Other states do not, like Kentucky and Louisiana where insurers are allowed to increase rates by more than 20% in a single year for a small business (most states only permit increases smaller than that). Very few states offer no rate protections: District of Columbia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Read more