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Survey finds Affordable Care Act not affordable for small business owners

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Tyler (KYTX) -- More small business owners are finding the Affordable Care Act tough to afford. According to a recent survey, more than 90 percent report health care reform is driving up premiums for their health plans.

We talked to an East Texas man who knows that all too well.

"If there's one message the Affordable Care Act is not affordable. It's not affordable for small business," Bob Westbrook, President of the East Texas Restaurant Association, said.

A few years ago when talk about President Obama's new health care plan hit the spotlight, Westbrook did the math. He had 96 full-time employees between his 4 Cici's pizza restaurants.

"It was going to cost $76,000 more than what I made at the restaurants just to pay the penalty and that didn't include the cost of health care for my employees," Westbrook said.

Of course, he would have liked to provide coverage for his team. But he says that wasn't a viable option.

"The coverage itself was going to be much more than what the penalty was so that's why I looked at the penalty first to see how the penalty was going to impact our business model," Westbrook said.

When both choices looked grim--Westbrook knew he'd either have to raise prices, or get out. In 2012, he sold his two Cici's restaurants in Tyler and others in Longview and Sulphur Springs. But that won't always be the case.

"The real loser in all of this is the consumer," Westbrook said.

The National Small Business Association recently surveyed nearly 800 small business owners. 1 in 4 report that during their most recent renewal, premiums jumped by more than 20 percent.

They report paying on average $1,121 dollars a month per employee for individual coverage, that's up from $590 in 2009.

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