Women Business Owners Dissatisfied with Health Care Costs

October 24, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - More than three-quarters of women business owners are dissatisfied with the cost of health care for "themselves and their employees," while two-thirds were "very dissatisfied," according to a report released by Access America/US Chamber of Commerce.

The most favored health-care reform proposal among women business owners of both large (more than 21 employees) and small (4 to 20 employees) companies was “making it easier for small businesses to buy health-care coverage for their employees by creating large group purchasing plans.”

Four out of 10 women business owners believe that “making health care more affordable” should be the top priority in the health-care system, while a slightly smaller group (34%) thinks “providing basic health insurance coverage to all Americans” should be the top reform priority.

Four out of 10 respondents also had a consensus in opposing a proposal to “require employers to offer minimum health insurance benefits by having them pay into a public program that will provide health benefits.”

Women business owners believe that offering health benefits are a reason they remain competitive in the job market and more than 75% think that they will attract fewer good employees by changing the coverage offered, according to the survey.

Those currently offering employee health benefits think the costs will rise approximately 20% in the next year, and think they will pass about one-third of the burden onto their employees through increased premium sharing, higher deductibles or co-pays and higher prescription drug payments.

Of the companies surveyed 38% of smaller companies offer health benefits while 69% of larger companies did, cost was the most common determining factor. The number of companies dropped dramatically when discussing long-term care insurance; it is offered by 9% of small business owners and 19% of larger business owners. However, this would be offered by 45% of respondents if there was a federal tax incentive.

The survey was conducted of 300 women business owners, 200 small business owners and 100 large business owners, by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of Access America, a strategic initiative of the US Chamber of Commerce created to address the specific concerns of women and minority business leaders and to bolster the growth of these businesses.

Alison Cooke