Small Businesses Receive Big Health Care Incentive

June 10, 2008

Montgomery, Ala. (WSFA) -- Big corporations like Thyssenkrupp, Hyundai and Northrop Grumman often lead the local newscasts, but would you believe 90% of all businesses in Alabama are categorized as "small business"?

On Tuesday, Governor Bob Riley signed a bill to help those businesses.

Remember when Mercedes arrived in Alabama and then Honda and after that all the fuss was over Hyundai?

Those companies have received so much attention since they moved to Alabama that it was easy to forget there were also small businesses here too!

"I'm actually working on a web page design," says an employee for a small computer company in town.

This company meets the first criterion. In order to qualify as a small business there must be fewer than 25 employees. And although the employees are young health insurance is important to them.

"Very important. I'm pregnant so it's very important," says Marla Ruskin, a small business employee.

This business has 11 employees, but not all of them meet the 2nd criterion: An employee must make less than $50,000 a year. However most of those here at the computer company do qualify.

"It has become harder and harder for our small businesses to be able to compete with the larger industries because of health care," says Governor Bob Riley.

That's why the legislature passed, and the governor signed, the bill allowing small companies and their employees to deduct 150% of their health insurance premiums from their state income taxes.

Andy Martin is a small business owner who says, "It really is a fantastic feeling. It's almost like the feeling you have when somebody you didn't expect remembers your birthday. "

Martin doesn't know how much he will save, but the extra money will help him grow his business. "This is legislation specifically for businesses. It impacts us directly. It just felt like somebody remembered my birthday."

That company has health coverage already, but the employees have to pay a portion of it.

With health care costs going up companies were looking at way to cut back or cut out.

Maybe this bill, which goes into affect January 1, 2009, will help.