COLUMBUS, OH – A group of Ohio small business owners gathered today to share their struggles with rising health care costs. These entrepreneurs – ranging from a computer consultant to a restaurant owner – grapple with finding health insurance that is affordable for their workers and also within the means of a small business’s budget. They discussed the crippling effects that health insurance costs have on their businesses, and called on policymakers to develop systemic answers to this critical problem. As Cathy Levine, Executive Director of Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio noted, Ohio’s small businesses are being strangled by health care costs.
Diane Warren, owner of Katzinger’s Delicatessen, added, “I have to search for a new plan every year, one that offers coverage that meets my employees’ needs – and I end up compromising, because it needs to be affordable for everyone. But it needs to meet my needs, too – I have to find one that doesn’t break the bank.”
Dmitriy Kasvin, who owns DotX Technologies, is facing steeper costs this year than last year for his six employees. “I offer good coverage, but the price has gone up 20 percent since last year,” he said. Mari Sunami noted that employee health care costs put a large financial strain on non-profits, such as South Side Settlement House, where she serves as Executive Director. According to Rick Colby, a health care consultant, many small businesses simply can’t afford to provide health insurance at all.
These business owners agreed that public policy changes would help them address crushing health care costs and navigate the confusing health care system – but that the real problem is leadership. They are looking to policymakers to be leaders on this issue, and noted that the public must demand this leadership from their elected officials. “There are plenty of good ideas,” said Warren. “What we need are for elected officials to step up and make health care a priority. All of the stakeholders can be winners if we work towards a solution – but we need leadership to make this happen.”