Small Business Owners' Opinions on Health Insurance Exchanges

Small Business Majority
Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On June 12, 2012, Small Business Majority and Kaiser Permanente released opinion polling that provides new insight into what small business owners in California and Oregon want out of state health insurance exchanges, which are being created under the Affordable Care Act. The polling found interest in a small business exchange is high, along with specific features in the exchange, including allowing employees to choose among multiple carriers and ensuring prevention and wellness programs are available. The survey also found awareness of the small business tax credits is low.

Key Findings

The availability of SHOP exchanges in 2014 could spur more small business owners to provide health benefits to employees. In California, just 32% of small businesses currently offer health insurance to their employees. But, when small business owners are told that California’s exchange opens in 2014 and it will allow them to shop for health insurance among competing companies, the proportion of those who are likely to offer health coverage to their employees jumps to 44%. In Oregon, 26% of small employers currently offer health benefits to all of their employees, but when informed about the SHOP exchange, that jumps to 42%.

In terms of choice of multiple insurance carriers, large majorities of small business owners planning to offer benefits in 2014 want employees to be able to choose between multiple insurance carriers: 67% of California small business owners and 63% in Oregon.

Small businesses are looking for SHOP exchanges to help reduce the administrative burden of providing health insurance. Specifically, they are looking to the SHOP to handle enrollment and provide small business owners with a single, consolidated bill, regardless of the different number of insurance carriers employees select.

More than half of the small businesses (51% in California and 55% in Oregon) surveyed were not aware of tax credits available to them through the healthcare reform law for providing insurance to their employees. Upon learning about the availability of the credit, large majorities indicated they would be more likely to go to the exchanges in 2014 (58% in California and 61% in Oregon).

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