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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Examining How Business Owners Feel About Federal Health Care Reform

Affordable health care has been a critical issue in the current presidential election campaign. President Obama thinks health care reform is necessary in order to reduce health care costs. Mitt Romney thinks it is unnecessary and will only increase costs. No matter how people view the Affordable Care Act, it is equally important to examine how business owners feel about the reform since they are the ones providing most of the health care insurance for employees.

Eighty-four percent of Americans already have health insurance; 60 percent is provided through their employers. And most Americans support the law's requirement that companies with more than 50 employees have to provide health care insurance for their employees. How do business owners feel about it? Republicans claim businesses will drop health care coverage altogether and let their employees fend for themselves within the state insurance exchanges when the health insurance mandate goes into effect.

Not true. Less than ten percent of business owners indicated they might drop employer-sponsored health insurance, according to a recent survey by CFM Strategic Communications, who does research for Oregon Business magazine. Their research indicated about a third (37 percent) will continue to offer health insurance to their employees, and another third (39 percent) are on the fence, waiting to see what happens. Only four percent are actually considering lowering employee work hours to make them ineligible for benefits.

Most all employers recognize that providing health insurance for their employees is a good thing. It keeps them healthier and therefore more productive. It is a benefit that represents a huge part of the benefits package when hiring new employees, and attracting good employees is also a good thing. So, employees and employers appear to be on the same page with this issue. The issue that is keeping business owners up at night is cost.

Some of the more significant percentage results from questions posed to small business owners regarding health care reform include the following and explains why the majority of them are opposed to the federal Affordable Care Act. Sixty-three percent feel the Affordable Care Act will increase health care costs for small business owners. Fifty-seven percent expressed concern over increasing costs due to the inclusion of contraception coverage in private health insurance plans. Forty-eight percent favored keeping the private health insurance and Medicare and Medicaid programs the same.

It would seem logical that smaller businesses should voice larger percentages of dissatisfaction due to the greater impact health care reform might have on them. However, the survey results showed that whether the companies surveyed had 50 or fewer employees or more than 50, the results were almost the same.

So, it appears that businesses in general want to help employees by providing good health insurance and do not want employees to have to fend for themselves to obtain it. They are just concerned about the cost. Interesting. That is one of the major concerns for American families, too.

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