For small businesses the economic hits just keep coming, and as the New York Times reminds us, the hardest hits are often from health care.
The Times' Kevin Sack profiles several small business owners faced with a difficult choice: cut health care benefits or close their doors. Amberly Allen, who runs her own direct-mail firm, spends 17 percent of her firm's payroll on employee health benefits. Thomas L. Fritts, who owns a sporting goods store in Illinois, saw his company's health care costs rise 30 percent last year while his business's sales plummeted 60 percent.
Small business owners are shifting a greater share of health care costs onto their employees. In the past two years, for businesses with fewer than 200 workers, the percentage of employees enrolled in a plan with an annual deductible of $1,000 or more jumped from 16 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in 2008. See the chart below from the 2008 Kaiser HRET survey: