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While Feds Debate, Small-Biz Health Care Rates Skyrocket

health-care-rise.jpgThe whole healthcare-reform debate hit home for me this week. I've been ignoring a large envelope that came from my health insurance agent about a month ago. They left me a sort of ominous-sounding phone message about it, too, but I hadn't had a chance to call back. You know how sometimes when you can smell something bad's up, you just want to avoid it? I was in that mode.

Then I started reading news stories about how small-business healthcare plans were all having their rates jacked up to the sky...and I finally got up the nerve to open the envelope. Then I about fell over.

I'm on a health plan through my local city chamber of commerce through my freelance writing business, for me and my three kids. When I signed up two years ago, I was paying about $450 a month in premiums. This year, that became $560 a month. Guess what they'd like me to pay for the same coverage next year? $840 a month. That's a more than 30 percent increase.

Apparently, it's not just me, though mine seems like it's top of the class for ridiculous rate hikes. The Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins reports the average hike is 15 percent--more like what I saw last year.

Obviously, I'm going to be looking for a new health care plan, and I gather I'm not alone. It'll be interesting to see if this small-business healthcare rate spike has any effect on the ongoing effort to create a national healthcare plan.

Are your rates going up? If so, what's your plan--suck it up, or look elsewhere? Cut benefits?

Does it change the way you feel about national healthcare reform? Leave a comment and let us know.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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