By Art Holliday
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Left Bank Books co-owner Jarek Steele says it's expensive and stressful providing health insurance to a dozen fulltime employees.
"It is a big responsibility to insure a staff, especially if you're a small business," he said.
Steele estimates it costs $400 per employee every month.
"$270,000 for the last five years to insure the fulltime staff we have here," he said.
For a bookstore that's struggling to compete with the likes of Amazon.com, that's a sizeable expense. Now that the health insurance exchange marketplace is in effect, Steele says he's working with an insurance broker to find the best health insurance plan for his employees. He's optimistic that the Affordable Care Act will eventually save him money.
Starting in 2014, a tax credit kicks in, worth half of the employer's contribution toward insurance premiums.
"The preliminary numbers have shown that I can probably expect to pay roughly half of what I'm paying now for a comparable plan," said Steele.
Like most small business owners, Steele hopes for a quick resolution to the government shutdown.
"It is hands-down the worst time to have a this kind of shutdown," said Steele. "If you want to support small businesses, you don't crash into the busiest time of the year and essentially ruin a quarter by creating fear in their customers."
A long Washington stalemate could impact holiday shopping. The shutdown has already affected Steele's view of Capitol Hill politics.
"I think the battle that we're seeing in Washington is one more of grandstanding and predatory politics than anything else," said Steele. "And even though I don't trust the people in the government right now, I trust the process."