While President Barack Obama prepares to sign historic health care legislation into law Tuesday, some small-business owners in San Diego are wondering what it means for them.
President Obama plans to make trips around the country, starting with Iowa Thursday, to persuade skeptics that the medical system remake will make their lives better.
Business owners in San Diego will be watching to find out how the new rules will affect small businesses which, under the new laws, will be required to provide insurance for all employees.
Opinions seem to be split between companies that already provide health insurance for their workers and those that don't. The ones that don't are against being forced to spend the money to do so. Those that already do say it's time for universal coverage because their premiums are subsidizing the uninsured.
Andy Berg with the National Electrical Contractors Association of San Diego thinks this new bill levels the playing field.
"Everybody that's uninsured who goes through the emergency room drives of the cost of what we're paying for our workers. So if everybody's insured, listen -- economics works, right? The more buyers you have, the more product you have. The more you can lower the cost," said Berg.
In San Diego County, 95 percent of all companies employ 50 or fewer workers, and more than a third of all workers work in those types of companies.
According to the president of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, many business owners are more than confused.
Starting in 2014, firms with more than 50 workers have to offer employee health care or be penalized $750 a year per full-time employee. That fee could jump to $2,000 if the Senate adopts the House amendments.
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President Ruben Barrales told the paper that it’s not clear how the new rules will affect businesses that run on small profit margins and can’t afford more costs. He theorized that companies could react by employing fewer workers.