Washington County business leaders: Economy took baby steps in 2012
Peggy Bushey President of Cavetown Planing Mill and CAVCO Homes at her Cavetown office. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer / January 5, 2013)
Then in November, the market shot up 42 percent to $16.3 million in sales, MRIS said. And in that month, too, the median price — after dropping in October — rose in November to $163,250.
The health insurance factor
The economic turbulence is compounded by a sudden escalation in health insurance premiums, Bushey said.
In addition to Cavetown Planing Mill and Cavco Homes, her businesses include N.Z. Cramer, a hardware store in Woodsboro, Md. In all, the three businesses have about 65 employees, Bushey said.
Her companies have provided health insurance for employees for many years.
Now, she said, the cost of doing that seems to be jumping as insurers anticipate the expenses they will face under the so-called Obamacare.
The health insurance reform program, which Obama signed into law in 2010, is to roll out over four years. It is designed to make affordable insurance available to millions of uninsured Americans and small businesses
“Our increase (in premiums) this year was upwards of 40 percent. And we have what I would consider to be not very good insurance, but it was the best I could find for us,” Bushey said.
“What is going to happen? That is one of my very biggest concerns,” she said.
“We have never supplied health insurance because we had to. We have supplied it because that is what we knew our employees needed. And so, that is something I want to keep,” she said.
But with the new cost increase, she said, “this is some scary stuff.”
Weiss and Ross said the combination of the uncertainty of the economy and of Obamacare is causing many to hold off on new business projects.
“What caused the (local) economy to flat-line in the last part of the year, I think, is the uncertainty,” Ross said. Businesses are “not certain what the tax rates are going to be and what the health costs are going to be. There’s still a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines, waiting to come into the economy.”
As they would before any new year, Weiss said, businesses and customers are “making plans, but they’re not fulfilling their plan until they see what taxes are going to be, what Obamacare is going to bring.
“I don’t really understand the implications of Obamacare. Those decisions (how to adjust to it) may have to be made next year.”