Glass Companies Speak Out on Healthcare Reform Concerns
August 13, 2009

Current healthcare reform bills introduced by Congress have received mixed reviews by Americans, particularly regarding the impact it could have on small businesses, which includes many glass companies. According to President Obama's July 25 weekly address, under the reform plans in Congress, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an 'insurance exchange,' a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a variety of plans. He explained that small businesses choosing to insure their employees will also receive a tax credit to help them pay for it.

For those employers electing to not provide health benefits, section 412 of House Bill, H.R.3200 states that in addition to other taxes, an excise tax will be imposed on every non-electing employer "with respect to having individuals in his employ, equal to 8 percent of the wages… paid by him with respect to employment."

The section also states for small employers taxes will be based on the company's annual payroll according to the following breakdown:

  • Does not exceed $250,000: 0 percent
  • Exceeds $250,000, but does not exceed $300,000: 2 percent
  • Exceeds $300,000, but does not exceed $350,000: 4 percent
  • Exceeds $350,000, but does not exceed $400,000: 6 percent

Andy Gum, president of Thomas Glass Co. in Columbus, Ohio, points out that there are more small companies than large companies in the glass industry, so the healthcare reform plans could have a major impact on many companies in the industry.

"If small businesses are put in a position where a legislative mandate forces them to [provide healthcare] then they're at a serious disadvantage," says Gum.

Danya L. Rosales, chief financial officer, director for A Better View Glass & Mirror in Yorktown, Va., agrees.

"I believe that if a mandate is put into place, without a well designed plan, that would require small glass companies like my own to provide health insurance or pay costly fines and/or penalties we would be bankrupt. Yes, I said bankrupt," said Rosales. "I know if Washington keeps its collective noses to the grindstone we can create care for all at reasonable rates. However, if the small glass shops with fewer than 50 employees have to pay the same rates as our larger 'brothers and sisters' none of us will survive a mandate. We need reform now and providing my employees with health insurance is essential as well as a critical part of finding a top glazier and we all know how hard that is."

Some small business owners are concerned about what they know about the plan at this point.

"What is most disturbing is the lack of real facts about 'the plan,'" says Neil Duffy, owner of Auto Glass Menders in San Jose, Calif. "The insurance industry and others are spending millions to insure that their interests are not affected and in some cases they are spreading misinformation to defeat any public program."

Duffy does support a national plan, though.

"In my humble opinion there should be a national plan funded by sales or some other broad form of tax," he says. "Make it like Medicare that covers all but has certain limits. Private insurers can sell add-ons and upgrades. It would not be hard for any insurer to price an existing group plan accordingly minus the government coverage."

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