By the time this issue of Snips is out in October, I’m not sure where Congress will be on the health care debate. But as I sit down to write this in the first half of September, the issue is still pretty hot.

There are a lot of questions and confusion on the topic. In fact, at this month’s SMACNA and HARDI conventions, I’d be surprised if health care wasn’t brought up in some fashion.

Health care impacts every American. If you don’t have it, it can be a scary scenario when you get sick or need to go to an emergency room. If you have health insurance through your employer, but your premiums keep going up or your insurance won’t cover all your medical needs, it can be severely frustrating.

In our unscientific Web poll on the Snips homepage, we asked readers if they thought a government-run public health insurance option would help bring down costs. An overwhelming majority, 77 percent, said a government plan would only increase regulations and cause higher taxes.

August online poll results

An old story

It’s hard to believe, but Snips covered the health care debate exactly three years ago (“Hurting for a health plan,” October 2006). In that issue, I spoke to several HVAC and sheet metal company owners struggling to provide insurance to their employees.

One owner said he saw his health insurance premiums go up by as much as 20 percent in one year, while another company that had no employee health insurance deductible had to pass on a $1,000 deductible.

That 2006 article was focused on one possible solution - “association health plans.” Industry associations such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America could buy health insurance as one large group, possibly reducing the cost of insurance.

The bill died in Congress. I’m not sure if this year’s health debate will die in Congress or not.

It feels like I wrote that health plan article just last week, but here we are three years later and company owners are still facing the same struggles.

Let me know what kind of health insurance difficulties your company is having. Maybe your company has been able to find a solution. If so, share it with us. You can e-mail me at

We may not agree on how small businesses are going to get a break on their insurance costs, but maybe we can all agree that doing nothing will only make things worse.

James J. Siegel is the associate editor of Snips magazine.