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When insurance benefits broker Steve Walsh meets with business clients to discuss changes in their health insurance premiums, he knows the decision goes beyond how much a company should pay for health coverage.

At today’s hearing on small-business health insurance costs in Boston, Walsh testified about one of his clients, a country club trying to cover a 36 percent increase in costs. The owner feels he is barely getting by financially, and was considering raising membership rates in order to cover the increase in health premiums. However, the owner knows many of his members are in a difficult spot in terms of their renewals, and an unexpected increase may cause them to drop their membership. So he decided to not raise membership rates, and hope for the best.

This is the kind of story we hear consistently, about businesses being faced with difficult decisions on their future because of increasing health insurance premiums. Also at today’s hearing, we heard from Jude Silber (in photo left, with Jon Hurst of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts), who runs two businesses in Harvard Square, Motto and MDF. She said, “I can’t do it anymore,” as she discussed trying to keep up with health insurance increases for her seven employees.

We also heard today from a number of trade organizations and other stakeholders in our state’s health insurance market, including one carrier. While we heard some different viewpoints on how to go about fixing health insurance, everyone acknowledges that changes have to be made.

Last month, Governor Patrick unveiled his plan to support small businesses and create jobs. Part of that plan includes reforming health insurance. The Governor has acknowledged that small businesses and families need relief from these big increases now, and we are hearing from all sides of the issue in these sessions that change is certainly needed.

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