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Survey shows business owners can't afford employee health insurance

By Catherine Wolf, KWMU

St. Louis, MO –

Members of Small Business Majority, an advocacy group for small businesses, said many of Missouri's small business owners would offer employees health insurance if it cost less.

The group randomly surveyed 200 Missouri small business owners. It found 46% offer employees health insurance. Eighty-nine percent of those who don't said it's because they can't afford the premiums.

Business owner Becki Geraty said she decides on yearly basis whether to continue offering insurance.

"I want healthy employees. But I can't afford to continue to not only absorb a 36% increase each year, they can't afford to pay it."

Jim Henderson said he struggles to maintain coverage for his six employees. His rates have gone up more than 150% in 11 years.

"There has been very little change in our census, no major claims or losses. When I ask the companies why are you raising our rates the response is, because we can."

Advocacy group members say the survey also shows nearly 70% of small business owners want a choice of public or private health insurance.