Small businesses gearing up for health insurance changes - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Small businesses gearing up for health insurance changes

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Starting next year, small businesses with over 50 employees will be required to provide health coverage to its full time employees.

"I have several employees who've been with me over 30 years, we must be doing something right to keep them, and that's why I always want to offer health insurance to my employees," said Fred Price, owner of Ace Glass Company.

With less than 50 employees, Price isn't required to provide insurance under the Affordable Care Act but he believes the new law may make it more difficult for him to continue to do so.

"I've been told my younger work force, their [rates are] going to go up. Their rates are going to increase," Price said.

While uncertainty frames Price's budget, some say South Carolina's economy has a lot more to lose.

"You are going to have people out of work because they didn't, because their employer let them go because they wanted less than 50 employees or they put them on a part-time job," said State Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-District 23.

But legal experts say businesses will not have to shoulder the cost of health care alone.

"A lot of the small businesses, if they decide they want to help their employees with coverage they could get a tax credit themselves," said Sue Berkowitz, director of the Appleseed Legal Justice Center. "Before this year it was a 38 percent tax credit for their lower wage employees, it is going to go up to 50 percent."

Many worry benefits like dental coverage will be cut as business try to reduce costs.

"If they don't have those benefits they may feel like ' I can't go, or maybe I have to wait'. And we certainly know if have a little problem and wait, it can turn into a big problem," said Dr. Thomas Edmonds, president of the SC Dental Association.

For many it's a waiting game to find out if and just how their coverage may change.

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