Plurality of Small Business Owners Want Healthcare Law Upheld; Only One-Third Want it Overturned

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Originally released June 14, 2012:

A plurality (50 percent) of small business owners want the healthcare reform law upheld—either as is or with minor changes—while only one-third want the Supreme Court to overturn it, according to opinion polling released today by Small Business Majority. However, after learning more about the law, a clear majority (56 percent) want it kept intact with, at most, only minor changes.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision any day in the case against the Affordable Care Act, filed by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and state attorneys general. The polling of 800 small business owners in eight states (Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas and Virginia) found that once small business owners learn more about the law, their support for keeping it intact—either as is or with minor changes—rises to 56 percent, while opposition falls to just 28 percent.

Contrary to popular belief, small business owners do not want the high court to throw out the Affordable Care Act. They see this law as helping everyone have coverage and bringing down healthcare costs—something that has been one of their top concerns for years. We hope Supreme Court justices understand how important this law is to small businesses who need relief from high healthcare costs.

Key provisions of the law also have strong small business support, including one of the most crucial components for small businesses—the health insurance exchanges. The Affordable Care Act calls for exchanges—online marketplaces where small businesses can pool their buying power when purchasing coverage—to be up and running in every state by 2014. Sixty-six percent of owners say they would use their state exchange or consider using it to provide their employees with health benefits. The majority of entrepreneurs find potential features of the exchange very appealing, including employee choice (76 percent), the exchange educating employees about plans (74 percent), and the exchange providing plans that offer prevention and wellness programs (77 percent). Additionally, a strong majority (66 percent) of small businesses support their state applying for federal funds to set one up.

“Small businesses have been at the center of this lawsuit, and everything I hear is that they want it overturned. That’s not true for me, and it obviously isn’t true for the majority of my fellow entrepreneurs,” said Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, Mich. “I sincerely hope our Supreme Court justices listen to what real small businesses are saying about this law, not what a select few are saying for us, and that they uphold it. Going back to the status quo would be unthinkable.”

Other key findings from the poll:

  • 55 percent of small businesses who support upholding the law believe it should be kept because we need to make sure everyone has health coverage; more than one-third say it’s because it will make it easier to purchase insurance
  • 72 percent support the medical loss ratio requirement, where insurers are required to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on healthcare claims and quality improvement efforts
  • 65 percent support “rate review,” where state regulators are allowed to review and approve or reject insurers’ increases they deem excessive
  • 78 percent support prohibiting insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions
  • 69 percent support preventing insurance companies from basing insurance rates on health status; 73 percent support preventing insurers from charging women higher rates than men
  • 69 percent favor allowing young people up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans
  • 55 percent of small business owners provide insurance to at least some of their employees, but of those who don’t offer it, 70 percent say it’s because they can’t afford it
  • Of small businesses who do offer benefits, respondents said the two most compelling reasons to offer were that they had a responsibility to offer (47 percent) and because it helps retain good employees (47 percent)
  • Of the small businesses who qualify for a tax credit under the law, but were not taking advantage of it, nearly half (46 percent) said they weren’t using it because they were not aware it existed
  • Nearly half of all small businesses (49 percent) said they’d be more likely to offer insurance if they qualified for a tax credit and the same percentage said they’d be more likely to purchase insurance through an exchange if they could receive a tax credit
  • 51 percent of small businesses are interested in establishing a workplace wellness program

To read the full report go online to http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/healthcare/small-business-owners-views-on-aca.php

Tax Credit Report: 7 in 10 Small Businesses Eligible for Combined $15.4 Billion in Healthcare Tax Credits

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Originally featured in The Huffington Post:

Since the enactment of federal health care reform, hundreds of thousands of small business owners across the country have been able to claim a tax credit for offering their employees health benefits — and millions more are eligible, according to a report released today by advocacy group Small Business Majority and consumer group Families USA. For tax year 2011, seven in 10 small businesses with 25 or fewer employees are eligible for the credit.

But most striking is that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t even know this credit exists.

American small businesses employ millions of workers and create 65 percent of all net new jobs. They can be found in every pocket of the country, driving growth in metropolitan cities, suburban settings and rural towns. Small businesses hold an iconic position in the American consciousness — a position that sometimes makes it easy to forget how much they struggle to achieve that deserved recognition.

The reality is, most small businesses operate within thin profit margins. And that means they’re less likely than big businesses to be able to afford health coverage for their workers. It’s a decades-old problem that the Affordable Care Act was designed specifically to address. According to the report released today, more than 3.2 million small businesses employing 19.3 million Americans are eligible for the healthcare tax credit included in the law to help offset their premiums. Erica Hawthorne, the marketing manager for Ken Weinstein’s Philadelphia, Penn. Trolley Car Diner, is one of those 19.3 million.

Erica reports that Ken received a tax credit of 19 percent of his premiums, and that she has directly benefited. After being on an individual plan, Erica was able to gain better insurance when Ken decided to expand employee coverage after receiving the credit. “Offering employee health benefits has helped the business attract and retain staff,” Erica said. “When I was able to switch over to the group plan, I saw a significant change in my premiums. It really increased my take-home pay. From an employee perspective, offering health insurance adds to the entire package of any job. It’s mutually beneficial for a business and its employees.”

Entrepreneurs like Ken are using their tax credit savings to boost benefits, hire new workers and more. With $15.4 billion available for this year’s credits alone, eligible small business owners and their employees stand to reap big savings. That $15.4 billion amounts to an average of $800 per employee, or $1,066 at businesses that qualify for the maximum credit of 35 percent of their 2011 premium costs.

According to the report, two in five eligible businesses should qualify for the 35 percent maximum (which in 2014 will jump to 50 percent). Those who think they might be eligible should talk to their accountants, but to meet basic qualifications, owners must have fewer than 25 full-time employees and pay at least 50 percent of their premiums.

Unfortunately, not nearly as many employers who are eligible for this benefit have taken advantage of it. This is largely due to small business owners’ overall unfamiliarity with this provision of the Affordable Care Act. Our national opinion polling found 57 percent of small business owners have never heard of the tax credit. For the sake of these small businesses, it’s imperative lawmakers and small business groups spread the word about this and other provisions in the law that will help boost entrepreneurs’ bottom lines. These individuals — the cornerstone of state and local economies — are doing everything they can to build up their companies right when our nation needs it most.

Follow John Arensmeyer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SmlBizMajority

Don’t Forget About the Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Originally featured in The Huffington Post:

With tax day rapidly approaching, small business owners still have a chance to cash in on a health care reform provision reserved just for them: health care tax credits. The Affordable Care Act was designed to address one of small business owners’ most serious problems — a lack of access to affordable coverage. Since its enactment, employers across the country have been able to claim the credit and reinvest in their business. Nan Warshaw, owner of Bloodshoot Records in Chicago, Illinois, is one of them.

Nan was able to save nearly $6,000 with the Affordable Care Act’s small business tax credit in 2010, helping offset her group coverage cost. “We’re still filing our 2011 returns, but we anticipate saving nearly that amount again,” she said. “With us paying the full contributions for our employees’ insurance, it really is a relief to get some help with those costs — and this is certainly the first time we’ve been financially rewarded for looking out for their wellbeing.”

Nan is one of hundreds of thousands of employers already seeing her health care costs decrease with the help of the tax credits. According to national opinion polling we released in 2011, one-third of small business owners who currently don’t offer health coverage are more likely to start doing so because of them, and 33 percent of employers already offering it said they’re more likely to continue doing so.

Currently, businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees who pay at least 50 percent of total premiums are eligible for a credit of up to 35 percent of their premium contribution. In 2014, that will jump to 50 percent. For a rough estimate of how much your business could save, check out Small Business Majority’s tax credit calculator.

In this tough economy small business owners are struggling to compete, and in some cases, just keep their doors open. Like some of the law’s other key components, the tax credits are intended to boost entrepreneurs’ bottom lines, bettering their chances of offering quality coverage. Some use it to become more competitive by bulking up benefits packages, while others purchase new equipment. Still others put it toward their employees’ share of premiums.

For Ron Nelsen, owner of Pioneer Overhead Door in Las Vegas, Nevada, the credit eased worries that group costs might spiral so far out of control that he’d be robbed of his commitment to offering insurance. “When I heard about the new health care law, I was relieved something was finally being done to help entrepreneurs like me,” he said. “In 2010, I got back $2,235 just for offering insurance to deserving employees. And this year, I received even more. Most importantly, I’m not thinking about having to tell the guys they’re on their own when it comes to health insurance.”

Nationally, 309,000 small businesses saved money through this provision in 2010. An even larger number should benefit this year. And research shows the uptake could be even greater. Our opinion poll found 57 percent of small business owners do not know about the tax credits. It’s time to change that. To help them, we must get the word out and do everything we can to make sure this important provision is taken advantage of. In this economy, every little bit helps.

Virtual, Easy-to-Use Brochure Walks Small Businesses Through Ins and Outs of Healthcare Reform Law

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Original statement issued on March 23, 2012:

Today, Small Business Majority released an easy-to-use online resource called the “Actual Factual brochure,” which small business owners can use to learn how the 2-year-old healthcare reform law impacts their businesses.

National small business advocacy organization Small Business Majority released a virtual version of the Actual Factual brochure, which was developed and produced by Ascension Health, the largest nonprofit health system in the nation. Presented in an easy-to-use flipbook format that can be accessed from all mobile devices, it puts important information about the law at small business owners’ fingertips.

“The nation’s small businesses are critical to achieving 100 percent access to healthcare,” said Susan Nestor Levy, Chief Advocacy Officer, Ascension Health and Executive Vice President, Ascension Health Alliance.“To help spread the word about the provisions in the law that help small businesses provide health insurance to their employees, Ascension Health developed the Actual Factual brochure. By making it available in a virtual, easy to flip-through format, we hope even more small businesses will learn about the law and take advantage of the provisions aimed at helping them.”

The healthcare landscape is shifting as the market adjusts to provisions of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010. The Actual Factual brochure, which details provisions of healthcare reform pertinent to small businesses, walks small business owners through the ACA provisions such as healthcare tax credits, small business exchanges and various cost containment measures aimed at lowering costs throughout the system.

“As the Affordable Care Act continues bringing changes to the healthcare system, it’s essential to disseminate clear information about how this law impacts our job creators,” said Small Business Majority CEO John Arensmeyer. “This brochure allows them to have this information literally at their fingertips, so wherever they are—be it their business, a job site or meeting with clients—if they have questions about the law they can access a resource that will give them clear, easy-to-understand answers.”

Expanding and Simplifying Healthcare Tax Credit for Small Businesses Will Help Rein in Coverage Costs

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Released February 16, 2012:

I joined Administrator Karen Mills, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a Michigan small business owner on a tele-press conference today to discuss the expansion and simplification of the small business healthcare tax credit in the Affordable Care Act.

Since its enactment nearly two years ago, the Affordable Care Act has already helped many small business owners better afford health coverage. The healthcare tax credits have played an important role. However, the credit could be made even more robust—which is what the president proposed as part of his 2013 budget.

Already, the small business tax credits are helping thousands of small businesses better afford health insurance. Last year, we released national opinion polling that found one-third of small business owners who currently don’t offer insurance would be more likely to do so because of these credits.

Improving this provision will let more small businesses take advantage of an important tool to help rein in healthcare costs. What’s good for small business is good for the economy. Expanding the tax credit would save more small businesses money, which will do even more to stimulate our economic recovery.

Michigan’s Mark Hodesh, owner of 100-year-old Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, is one of many owners whose business has already grown thanks to savings from the credit. “I’ve offered my 11 employees health insurance for a long time in order to attract and retain talent. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I’m now being rewarded for doing so,” he said.

In 2010, Hodesh saved almost $9,000 with the credit—nearly 30 percent of his total premium contribution. “Knowing that I was getting the credit gave me the confidence I needed to hire a 12th employee, who turned out to be a big asset to my store. Previously unemployed, she’s also now an asset to the local economy as a taxpayer and consumer.” This year, Hodesh could qualify to receive about $9,800 if Congress adopts the expanded credit.

The healthcare tax credits were designed to ease the burden of small businesses’ skyrocketing healthcare costs so these firms can grow and hire. Unfortunately, our polling found 57 percent of small business owners do not know the credits exist. And from speaking with entrepreneurs and CPAs across the country, we’ve found that some small employers—although they might qualify for the credit—think it’s too complicated and bypass it entirely. The president’s budget would change that.

To view Small Business Majority’s economic and opinion research on healthcare reform’s impact on small businesses, visit our website: http://smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/healthcare/index.php