Health Insurance Cost Is Big Headache For Small Business Owners in Tri-Cities - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Health Insurance Cost Is Big Headache For Small Business Owners in Tri-Cities

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RICHLAND, Wash.-- In a crowd of over a hundred, many business owners all agree with one thing.

Providing health insurance to their employees, is getting expensive.

"I would have to say it is my biggest second expense after payroll," said Jose Aguilera, owner of Terra Valley Landscape Inc. in Richland.

"Now we're down to bare bones coverage with the higher deductible because of the cost," said Gayle Stack, a realtor in the Tri-Cities.

"It's an anguishing item, line item in the budget every year that has to go through, that every small business has to go through," said Jeff Losey, with the Tri-Cities Home Builders Association.

Jose Aguilera, has been the owner of Terra Valley landscape for three years. With only 10 employees, Aguilera can give partial coverage to workers and their dependents.

"For the employees they pay 20%, for their families we pay 40% and they have to pay 60%," said Aguilera.

But unlike him, Gayle Stack has about 20 employees, and says only some are fully covered.

"Due to the cost of the benefits, we've had to strictly limit it to full time, and no dependents," said Stack.

It may not be full coverage, but it's all her company can do right now.

"Any major medical or catastrophic expenses covered, that's about the best we can do as a small business at this point in time, because we have all of our other expenses," said Stack.

"Number one probably to downsize the coverage, or maybe in the long term maybe to eliminate the coverage," said Aguilera.