Small Business Owners Concerned with Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs

Small Business Majority
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Historically, small businesses have faced punitive healthcare costs, paying on average 18% more than their large business counterparts. New scientific polling shows the rising cost of prescription drugs also are becoming a major concern for our nation’s small business owners, and many feel that drug costs are impacting their bottom line.

Main Findings

Vast majority of small business owners feel prescription drug prices are too high: Nearly 9 out of 10 small business owners (88%) think prescription drug prices in America are too high. They also believe the prices of specialty or lifesaving drugs are too high (84%). Far more employers think drug companies (72%) are responsible for these high prescription drug prices than health insurance companies (20%). 

Nearly 9 in 10 small business owners who provide health insurance to their employees think the cost of prescription drugs is too high.

Overall, do you think prescription drug prices in America are too high, too low, or about right?

Prescription drug coverage is a concern when selecting a plan: A large segment of the small business owner population (72%) provides their employees with some kind of coverage for prescription drugs costs. More than half (52%) of these employers consider prescription drug prices when choosing the best health insurance plan for their business.

Small employers and employees are absorbing increased drug costs: More than 8 in 10 small business owners say their prescription drug copays have increased in recent years. Their primary strategies for managing those increasing drug copay costs are to shift some of the higher costs to employees (39%) or absorb the higher costs and maintain the same health insurance benefits (31%). Among employers who shifted the higher costs to employees, over half say they shifted at least 50% of the copay costs to employees in order to continue offering coverage.

How small business owners are absorbing increased drug copays

Which of the following options comes closest to the way your company typically manages increasing costs from prescription copays?

Vast support for range of policy proposals to address rising cost of drugs: Small business owners widely and intensely support a set of proposed solutions for addressing the rising costs of prescription drugs. The top-performing policy is making it illegal for a drug company to pay another company that makes generic drugs to delay the release of a generic drug, with 88% saying they agree (56% strongly agree), followed by a policy that prescription drugs that are developed with taxpayer dollars should be made affordable to every American, with 90% saying they agree (54% strongly agree). Many small business owners (85%) also agree that Americans should be able to purchase prescription drugs from Canada and that the federal government should be allowed to negotiate lower Medicare drug prices.

Support for policy solutions