Commentary: Our health insurance system doesn't work for small businesses

Health insurance under the current system is a huge, expensive hassle for small businesses. Just ask Laile Fairbairn, managing partner for Anchorage's Snow City Cafe. The company signed up to pay half the costs of employee health insurance in 2004, but had to cancel almost immediately when the rates doubled.

Despite the restaurant's success, health insurance "remains out of reach and not by a little but by a lot," Fairbairn wrote in legislative testimony.

Many small-business owners are understandably anxious that health insurance reform proposals in Washington would require them to start paying something toward coverage — which is likely the case. Some definitely can't afford it.

Yet the benefits to small-business workers would be great: They'd get health insurance. They wouldn't have to live on the edge, always fearing catastrophe, as does Ken Carr, who owns and is the sole employee of a property maintenance engineering company.

"It's just a huge burden. It's just really depressing to constantly carry that over your head," says Carr, who has hepatitis and what used to be called a heart murmur — conditions that make individual insurance unaffordable.

His position as an uninsured small-business worker is all too common.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.