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Health Care Costs Making Tennessee Small Business Sick



May 26, 2009

Memphis, TN – The cost of health insurance is becoming so prohibitive that many Tennessee businesses have had to curtail hiring. Paul Crum, who runs Bartlett Art Printing and Graphic Design in Memphis, is a case in point. As a small business owner, Crum does all his own work these days. He'd like to add some employees to the payroll, but says the cost of health insurance makes it impractical.

"I could hire help, which would help the employment situation in our community, but can't afford to hire any labor."

Crum says he pays roughly $900 a month for health insurance, which is almost as much as he pays in rent.

A new report from the group Families USA indicates that almost 1.4 million Tennesseans under age 65 will spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax family income on healthcare this year. It's a staggering and scary statistic, according to Tony Garr, executive director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign. What makes matters worse, he adds, is that few qualify for state programs, including Access TN, Cover TN and Tenn Care.

"Most people who are uninsured or uninsurable simply can't afford the premiums. People have decided they can't afford it."

The report is available online at www.familiesusa.org.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - TN