Area business leaders gathered Tuesday to discuss the pending Health Insurance Tax and health care reform.
The Stop The HIT Coalition, a group of small businesses whose goal is to repeal the Health Insurance Tax provision in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act set to take effect in 2014, hosted a forum where more than a dozen small business leaders gathered to talk about the effects the tax would have on their business.
Stop The HIT believes insurers will pass the cost of the Health Insurance Tax on to small businesses and others in the form of higher premiums and cost-sharing - increasing costs by about $500 per family plan per year.
"Small businesses in West Virginia and across America say that rising health care costs and increased taxes are among their top concerns in our current economy," said Tom Susman, a managing member of TSG Consulting and health care lobbyist who led Tuesday's discussion.
"Our economy in West Virginia and across the country is a small business economy. According to the SBA, small businesses account for over half of America's gross domestic product and more than half of our private workforce."
Susman said the tax would be levied on any business or individual who purchased coverage in the fully insured marketplace, where an estimated 87 percent of all small businesses purchase their coverage.
Meanwhile, large corporations and others won't have to pay the tax, Susman said.
Because many large companies are self-insured, they wouldn't be affected by the tax to the same extent.
The tax is expected to generate about $100 billion over the first 10 years. For the average small business employee with a family health care plan, the hit will amount to $500 annually in increased premium costs.
Members from the Independent Insurance Agents of West Virginia, West Virginia Home Builders Association, Charleston Area Alliance, West Virginia Auto Dealers Association, Sen. Joe Manchin's Office, and West Virginia EMS Coalition attended the forum.
Brenda Nichols Harper, vice president and general counsel of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber advocates repeal of the Health Insurance Tax.
"Come January, the many small businesses the West Virginia Chamber represents will be starting to pay this tax. We believe that once this tax is being paid, it's going impact another tax we pay - the unemployment comp tax," she said.