At the end of last year, the National Small Business Association polled 780 business owners with fewer than 500 workers for its annual health-care survey (pdf). Here are two important takeaways:
Health-care premiums are rising at a crippling pace. In 2009, the NSBA asked small business owners to estimate the cost of providing health insurance to employees. The average cost was $590 a month. When the NSBA asked the same question for the survey released Feb. 6, the average was $1,121. That’s drastic, and the scariest part about the number is that it won’t shock anyone who spends much time talking to small business owners. Nor is it surprising that respondents to the NSBA survey said rising health-care costs have made them less profitable and less likely to hire, boost wages, or invest in their businesses.
Small business owners aren’t turning to the Affordable Care Act for help. At least not yet. Slow enrollment in state-run Small Business Health Option Programs, or SHOPs, has been well documented. The NSBA survey indicates that small business owners aren’t interacting with other parts of Obamacare, either. Fifty-seven percent said they had no experience with healthcare.gov, while 74 percent have no experience with premium assistance tax credits. On the other hand, small business owners in the NSBA survey said they spend 13 hours and more than $1,200 a month, on average, complying with the health-care law.