A few more years of business-as-usual in the health care world could be bad news for John Clark and his Gresham rubber stamp company Stamp-Connection.
Four years after he started his business in 2001, Clark began offering his employees — he has 11 total, including himself — 100% paid medical, dental and life insurance. He also covers his family and those of three managers.
Double-digit price increases over the past three years, however, have begun to tighten the line. The health benefits now cost the company, which has annual revenues of about $1.25 million, roughly $90,000 a year. And Clark is expecting similar increases over the next few years, which is why he’s anxious for health care reform to kick in.
“Any change is good at this point because the status quo is just killing us,” he says, noting that offering handsome benefits has helped him attract loyal, long-term employees. “We can’t keep going at this rate.”
To help deal with the cost increases thus far, co-pays for Stamp-Connection employees have risen slightly. If the expenses continue to rise, Clark says he may have to ask employees to contribute toward their monthly premiums. He says he also is concerned that costs could shoot up precipitously on the way to 2014 as health providers scramble to generate as much revenue as possible before new regulations take effect.
Under the federal reform, small businesses like Stamp-Connection that offer health benefits may be eligible for additional tax credits. Clarks says he’s also looking forward to the new insurance exchange, which he says might offer lower prices or at least make current providers more competitive.
But a lot could happen between now and 2014, so Clark isn’t looking at any of the reforms as definite. Instead, he’ll continue offering his employees the best benefits he can, encourage wellness among his workers and keep his fingers crossed that whatever comes of health care reform will be good for business — and the country.
“The next three years are going to be very telling as to how we shake this out,” he says, “but as a society, we really do need to shake this out.”