I've started my own business, so for the time being, we've added me to my spouse's insurance plan. My spouse is a professor of theatrical design at Fresno City College, so we are insured through California's state employee program, which is managed by Anthem Blue Cross.
The good news is that he's got an excellent benefits package, so that doesn't cost us anything extra out-of-pocket. It is competitive, and while it is not the best insurance program I have ever encountered, it meets our needs for right now. The bad news is that the Federal government doesn't acknowledge our relationship, so the employer contribution is reported as taxable income. That costs us about $100 a month, which is not back breaking, just annoying.
Unfortunately, I can't offer heath care to my employee right now. I had not originally intended to have any employees, but almost as soon as I started the business I had more work than I could handle alone. So I hired someone. Fortunately, she's still a student and can qualify for insurance through school. But as soon as she graduates, I'm going to be in the uncomfortable position of either leaving her uninsured or pay for a small-business plan.
Ethically, I very much want to make sure she's covered. But I'm just not sure the income stream will be able to handle it, especially since the nature of the business is very feast or famine. Unless the company's income increases dramatically, the informal quotes I'm seeing are not feasible.
I have talked to a lot of small business owners who are in a similar situation. A lot of small business owners care more about their employees than big, multi-national corporations and it tears us apart that we can't do what we think we should be doing.
My thoughts on universal health care: I firmly believe in universal health care, but I don't believe in socialized health care. I am a very big believer in the free market. I want universal health care through the private sector, through the free market.
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