Health is Wealth: Small Business Struggles
lead contributor Sophie Sallusto
Private planes, designer bags, and affordable healthcare: all viewed as luxuries to the average American. The National Health Statistics Report from the Centers for Disease Control listed 31.6 million Americans as being uninsured as of 2020. A number which heavily resonates with the small business community. Many small business employers struggle to offer healthcare to their employees. For those who are able to provide healthcare, they are met with higher deductibles, high prescription drug costs, and limited options of health care plans.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 was a turning point for many small businesses, with the enacting of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). SHOP is listed as being available to those with 50 or less employees. This program was constructed to give employers more accessibility to health insurance plans, while tailoring their plans to accommodate the needs of their employees. Fortunately, SHOP has helped to close the gap on uninsured individuals in the United States. A 2018 study from The Commonwealth Fund examined data from 2013 to 2016, a timeline that is beneficial to look to as these years are prior to COVID-19, where irregularities in the data are likely to appear. U.S. Census Data has shown the number of uninsured small business workers to decrease from 28.1% to 19.4%. SHOP has been able to provide a significant decrease in uninsured individuals, however the healthcare plans offered ultimately fall short of most employees' needs.
Research based on small business owners has shown that simply providing healthcare for their employees is not enough. A study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund on Small Business Owners’ Views on Health Care Coverage and Costs conveyed the struggles for owners. The process of implementing healthcare proves to be extremely time consuming, and most owners cannot afford to set time aside to learn about the options they have. As a result, the healthcare plans they choose tend to be picked without too much research and are plans that still provide challenges. The healthcare plans offered are not affordable for most, with expensive copays and higher deductibles. The real issue that is left is the spiral of effects that occurs as a result of the inaccessibility to affordable healthcare. Unable to afford visits to the doctors, the health of small business employees is at risk of unknowingly facing health issues and subsequently dealing with the effects of this on both their wallets and their well-being.
Buttle, R., Vlietstra Wonnenberg, K., & Simaan, A. (2019, September 9). Small-Business Owners' Views on Health Coverage and Costs. Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2019/sep/small-business-owners-views-health-coverage-costs
Cha, A. E., & Cohen, R. A. (2022, February 11). Demographic Variation in Health Insurance Coverage: United States, 2020. National Health Statistics Report. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr169.pdf
Chase, D., & Arensmeyer, J. (2018, October 1). The Affordable Care Act's Impact on Small Business. Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2018/oct/affordable-care-act-impact-small-business#2
SHOP health insurance overview. (n.d.). HealthCare.gov. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://www.healthcare.gov/small-businesses/choose-and-enroll/shop-marketplace-overview/
Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). (n.d.). CMS. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Health-Insurance-Marketplaces/SHOP