Christine Stuart photo
Cindy Wood of Woody’s (Christine Stuart photo)

The owner of the most popular hot dog restaurant in Hartford wondered what would happen if she ran her restaurant like the health insurance industry runs its business.

“If I ran Woody’s like the present health care system is now being run you’d have to fill out an application before you came in my restaurant, and then if you were lucky you’d get a hot dog with no roll,” Cindy Woods, owner of Woody’s, said Thursday morning.

And forget about a getting a Chili dog.

Christine Stuart photo

“Chili is not covered by your policy. To appeal this decision please contact appeals hotline by phone at 1-888-FAT-CHANCE,” the prop for the press conference read.

Woods has been in the hot dog selling business for 32 years.

“In a bad economy our number one worry is about keeping our health care,” Woods said. “We pay what amounts to a mortgage payment each month for our health care coverage, which is approximately $1,500.”

That covers just Woods and her husband Gary. Woods has four part-time employees and is unable to provide health care for them, even though she wishes she could.

As someone who has had a very aggressive form of cancer, Woods said finding coverage is very difficult.

“After the new year my rates will be going up yet again,” she said.

“Even though my form of cancer is not curable I have seriously considered dropping my medical insurance,” Woods said. “People like my husband and I are the backbone of this country and our backs are breaking.”

Woods said she supports health care reform even if it includes a public option.

“I am not a socialist. I am a capitalist,” she said.

Christine Stuart photo

According to the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group’s report on 200 of Connecticut’s small businesses, the Woods’ aren’t alone.

Kevin Maggio, a campus organizer for ConnPIRG, said the percentage of small businesses that offer health care coverage has declined from 68 percent in 2000 to 59 percent currently.

Another problem for small businesses is that they pay 18 percent more than larger businesses would for the exact same policy because they have less bargaining power, Maggio said.

This report compiled by ConnPIRG also includes the stories of a handful of other small businesses in Connecticut.

“We are unable to offer healthcare for our employees because of the outrageous cost and very limited choices of insurance plans,” Robert La Perla of La Perla Fine Jewelers in West Hartford stated for the report. “The health insurance plan offered through the local chamber of commerce is too expensive—$13,000 to $15,000 per employee per year.”

“I am at the age when the quality of health insurance really matters,” Frank Perrelli Jr. of FPS Lawn Care in Guilford stated. “I’m getting older and if something happens I am concerned that I won’t be able to afford care. Additionally, as a small business owner, it’s very difficult to get good workers without offering health insurance because it’s so costly.”