Local, Small Businesses Prepare for Health Care Policy Changes

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There's a tiny coffee shop in Old Town with an equally tiny staff. Like many small business owners, John Miller, the owner of Artie's Filling Station, is unsure what the upcoming health care exchange will mean for his business. Right now, Miller doesn't offer his employees health care.

"Right now we're a very new business, and it's really just too much to do starting out as a small business," said Miller.

Come January first, many small businesses will have to decide between the purchasing a heath care plan and paying a penalty. But very small businesses like Artie's, those with less than 50 employees, won't face a penalty if they choose not to provide health care. But they will still have some tough choices.

"I really think because of the individual mandate more people are going to look to their employers to provide health insurance. I think there will be more demand from talent," said Rob Fowler, the CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Small businesses that will be purchasing health care for the first time or paying that penalty are afraid that the price of their product may go up. Since it has less than 50 employees Artie's is one small business that won't have to make a decision by January, unless it expands. But those slightly bigger ones have about six months to pick an option.

"It's a long term goal to actually provide health care for our employees but that being said, if it's not financially doable we'll have to weigh it out at the time," said Miller.