Small Businesses Won’t Make Changes to Health Plans

March 21, 2012 ( – Eighty-five percent of small businesses are not making changes or long-term plans based on health care reform legislation.

Beginning in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) requires businesses with the equivalent of 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance coverage for their workers. However, businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from this requirement, although employees may be required to purchase their own coverage.

According to a recent survey of small business owners by eHealth, Inc., based on their size, (fewer than 50 employees) none of the businesses surveyed would be required by the ACA to offer health insurance coverage to employees in 2014. However, the majority (60%) plan to continue offering coverage in 2014. Among those employers who considered themselves knowledgeable about aspects of the ACA, a majority (69%) said they had no plans to stop offering coverage to employees.

Most employers feel they have a moral obligation to provide health insurance for employees or feel they need to continue to do so in order to recruit and retain talented workers.

Small businesses are still sensitive to health care costs, however, with nearly all respondents (95%) citing “affordability” as one of the two most important factors when choosing a plan. Small businesses are also open to creative solutions to reduce health coverage costs. Many are willing to drop benefits like dental and vision (58%) or consider raising deductibles and offering accident or critical illness coverage (74%) in order to keep costs lower and continue offering employees health insurance.

The survey also found:

•  Nearly eight-in-ten small businesses (79%) report spending $200 or more for health insurance per insured employees or dependent each month;

•  A majority (53%) said they require employees to contribute 10% or less of the total cost for their own or their dependents’ monthly health insurance premiums.

•  More than six-in-10 (61%) reported that enrollee deductibles on their group health insurance plans are $1,500 or less per year;

•  One-third of respondents (34%) said they might consider dropping employer-based group health insurance beginning in 2014;

•  A majority of respondents (53%) said they always or sometimes impose waiting periods before allowing new employees to join the company health insurance plan;

•  More than four-in-10 (44%) said they felt a “moral obligation” to provide employees with health insurance;

•  Most small businesses identified “affordability” (95%) and “richness of benefits” (68%) as the two most important factors when choosing a health insurance plan; and

•  Only 6% considered the insurer’s brand a top-two factor when choosing a brand.


eHealth, Inc. conducted an anonymous online survey of 236 small business customers between February 10 and March 13, 2012.