Small Business Chamber offering up health coverage

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Small businesses in South Carolina are facing big problems when it comes to health insurance and the associated high costs.

"If they don't have health insurance and they get sick they're wiped out," Olga Burke, the owner of Burke's Automotive said.

She and her husband, Phillip, have had their business on Savannah Highway since 1986, and while being a small business does have some advantages with customer service, being so small also has its disadvantage with health insurance premiums. "It can be up to a grand for each person," Burke said.

So even with the Burkes covering 25 percent, the employee still has to pay $750 every month.

The head of the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce says that's more than some employees make in a month. "More than their mortgage, their car payment, remember that's just the premium that doesn't cover the deductible, the co-payments. All these are on top of the premium," Frank Knapp Jr. said.

"It hurts us, it hurts the employees who have to maintain," Burke said.

In fact, only three of their eight employees get their health insurance through them.

Both Democrats and  Republicans are proposing different bills, and Knapp says the only way to progress is for all sides to focus on the common principles in all plans, like reforming insurance regulations, subsidizing premiums and controlling premiums through pooling and competition.

Putting a plan in place could take about three years according to many estimates, but there is an option for right now.

"We're pairing doctors together where they'll get discounted rates through the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce," Knapp said.

It's their Primary Health Care Outreach Project.  Knapp says it gives the uninsured an affordable option for examinations and treatment, at least until a real reform is in place.

If you'd like to find out more about the Primary Healthcare Outreach Project,  call Frank Knapp at the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce at 803-252-5733.

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