QUESTION: I recently purchased a retail convenience store, and I currently do not provide any benefits for my 10 employees. Our family has benefits through my wife's job at Johns Hopkins. I am almost breaking even, but I have a major concern about having to provide health care benefits for employees. S. B., Baltimore.
ANSWER: You will have to buy your own health insurance as well as insurance for your employees. That means you will have to pay more -- but Johns Hopkins gets to pay less -- for health insurance. And that is part of the reason for the reform. Large employers like Johns Hopkins have been subsidizing small businesses like yours by providing health insurance. But it isn't all bad. Any business with fewer than 75 employees is eligible for subsidies. Depending upon your pay rate and income, the new health insurance premiums may cost you anywhere from 3.5 percent to 7.9 percent of your payroll.
If you have questions about health care reform, we'd like to hear them. Call Sundial, the Baltimore Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800 (268-7736 in Anne Arundel County). After you hear the greeting, punch in the four-digit code 4425 on your touch-tone phone.