More Idaho employers shedding insurance

BOISE, Idaho -- Dave Silva is working to keep his Boise copier business at 708 N. Orchard St. healthy. But ever-rising health insurance premiums for his workers threaten the bottom line.

Starting Monday, premiums for Automated Office Systems will go up 21 percent. That's on top of a 28 percent increase last year, he said. Silva now contemplates ending coverage for his 18 employees. "If it does that again, we are done," he said.

Many other Idaho businesses have already given up.

From 2002 to 2009, the percentage of employers offering health insurance to full-time workers has plunged to 56 percent, according to the 2009 Idaho Fringe Benefit Survey released Friday by the state Department of Labor.

The report came a day after President Barack Obama and congressional leaders held a daylong, televised summit on health-insurance reform. Democrats want to extend coverage to more people, but Republicans worry about costs and greater government control.

Small Idaho companies are suffering most, the Idaho report said. Big employers are hanging on. Though their workers typically are paying more or getting less coverage, all Idaho employers surveyed with 250 or more workers still offered health insurance in 2009.

But businesses with fewer than 50 workers employ half of the state's labor force. Seventy percent of businesses with 10 to 50 workers provide insurance. Just 40 percent of businesses with 10 or fewer workers do.

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