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Small Talk: Businesses seek cure for health care cost surge

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Silk isn’t worried about turning customers off by charging more. He’s part of a group of investors that bought Smith Brothers, a once-popular brand that had languished in dollar stores, and redesigned it for sale in more mainstream retailers. Part of the company’s strategy is to have a better product that deserves to have a higher price.

"We’ll give consumers a compelling reason to pay more," Silk says.

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At Havana Central, Merrin says he will also consider raising prices. But with so much competition from other restaurants in New York, that may not be much of an option.

"There’s only so much price elasticity until you price yourself out of the market," he says.


Barbara Morris has 48 employees at her company, Laser Image. She’s hoping to hire more staffers, and knows that if she does, that will force her to comply with the ACA.

"We know it’s going to be a large item to add to our bottom line. And we keep talking about that, how do we make up for that?" says Morris, president of the Dallas-based company that creates digital sales and marketing systems.

One answer may be to reduce employee bonuses.

"Perhaps the bonus won’t be 5 percent. Perhaps we’ll cut it to 3 percent to put money away for health care," Morris says.

To try to avoid that step, Morris says she’ll shop on the health insurance exchange that is scheduled to begin offering plans for small businesses later this year. She’s actually looking forward to it.

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"That’s going to be really fun, to see what the numbers look like, what we’re going to get for those dollars," she says.

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