Why the ACA is good for small businesses—and America

Guest blog by Ahmad El-Najjar, Townsquared: The only online private community designed to help small businesses succeed through local connections and resources.

American business is small business; of the 28 million firms in the United States, just 17,500 are large corporations. Small businesses contribute close to half of our $18 trillion national GDP and contribute nearly 10 percent of the world’s GDP. Yet for all that small businesses do, some lawmakers have made it a mission to destroy one of the biggest victories in decades for American small businesses: the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

It’s important to note that the ACA does not regulate healthcare; rather, it regulates health insurance companies. The former would likely hurt patients, while the latter protects consumers from the potential problems associated with an unregulated insurance marketplace. Before the ACA, for example, insurers had no obligation to justify rate increases; now, health insurers must publicly justify any rate hikes.

Being a patient was simply a riskier proposition before the ACA became law. People could be—and routinely were—denied coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. And insurance companies could arbitrarily cancel your coverage if the cost of your care was deemed to be too high.

Those developments alone make a strong case for protecting the ACA, but there are also some specific ways in which the healthcare law is helping small businesses, including firms run by women and immigrant entrepreneurs. 

Women own 36 percent of all small businesses. This meant that prior to the ACA, more than one-third of America’s business owners could be denied the right to basic preventative care such as mammograms, maternity care, and contraception, and could be denied coverage if they were, for example, a breast cancer survivor. All just because of their gender.

The ACA also benefits immigrant small employers, which is significant because 41 percent of small businesses are minority-owned and immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business. Thanks to the ACA, insurers operating in the government marketplace must accommodate individuals for whom English is not a first language. Our immigrant populations are driving economic growth and job creation through small business operation, and the ACA’s language accessibility clause means there are now millions of Americans who can better navigate the process of acquiring the health insurance plan that is right for them and their business.

The question now in play for lawmakers is straightforward: Is ending coverage for the more than 20 million Americans who gained health insurance under the ACA—many of whom are small business owners and their employees—somehow good for business? If so, whose business is it good for: small employers or a billionaire’s portfolio?

As John Arensmeyer, Small Business Majority Founder and CEO, said recently, “Anyone who would deny the positive impacts of the law on small businesses either hasn’t been paying attention or cares more about scoring political points with their base than about job growth in America.”