News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 19, 2008
AIKEN, S.C. -- Small business owners in South Carolina can now band together with other small businesses to lower health care costs to their employees.
One small business owner in Aiken says this is a great day and now he's waiting to see just how much his employees deductibles will go down.
Health insurance rates are simply high. Most people seem to be looking for those rates to just go down. One small business owner, Jim Hanna, is no different.
"Unfortunately, because of the size of your business, we are not able to get our better benefits. The small amounts paid for your benefits (we don't get)," says Hanna.
But, those better benefits might be on their way. Now, those small businesses, with no more than 50 eligible employees, can partner up with at least 10 businesses or at least 1,000 employees to lower health care costs.
"Get the deductibles down. Get the out of the pocket expenses down, so it's not such a drain," says Hanna.
Right now, Jim pays $2,500 a month for dental and medical insurance for his 11 employees, with a deductible of $1,000.
Jim's hopeful this means savings for him and his employees. But, not in the short term for Ashley, an employee at Jim's shop.
News 12 asking, "In the long run, it'll benefit you, right?"
Ashley answering, "I hope so!"
About 20 percent of South Carolinians are uninsured and in a state made up of 97 percent of businesses like Jim's, he's glad the Governor stepped in and made a change.
"He had his sleeves rolled up and ready to go. And, he took this head on and got it done," says Hanna.
"It's an important step forward," says Gov. Mark Sanford.
"I know, nothing's going to be, you sign the bill and it's done today. But hopefully, within the year, it'll be done," says Hanna.
As for his "Health Care Team", he's looking to the Chamber of Commerce for help.
"I think they would be the likely people to do it because they have the contacts with the different businesses. Also, they have the reputation of doing things right," says Hanna.
So now, Jim's going to do his homework and hopefully find out he'll be able to reduce the deductible for his employees between 30 and 40 percent. This is something which could mean a savings of almost $400 for each of his 11 employees.
The downside to this bill could be the company Jim gets involved with. He's going to make sure to do all the research he needs so a company he joins up with is the right fit for his employees.
This was just one of the three initiatives Governor Sanford wanted to see passed in the first 30 days of this Legislative Session. The other two deal with DUI Reform and Illegal Immigration.