Small Business Owners Struggle to Provide Health Insurance for Staff

September 17, 2009

Many small business owners struggle to provide health insurance for their staff and many don’t feel confident in their ability to select coverage that best fits their employees’ needs, according to a survey by the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) confirms

The survey found that 64 percent of small business owners responded that they are not confident picking a health insurance policy that fits their budgets and their employees’ needs. 60 percent said they are not confident they understand the tax implications of paying for a portion of their employees’ health insurance premiums. One-third said that they cannot afford to provide health insurance to their employees.

“This survey shows that small business owners — like all health consumers — need to get the facts on health coverage,” said OFIR Commissioner Ken Ross.

These tips will help small business owners better understand their health insurance needs and requirements:

• Before purchasing any insurance policy, interview several licensed insurance agents specializing in the health insurance needs of small businesses.

• Compare the costs of equivalent coverage from several insurers to ensure you are getting the best deal and ask how premiums have increased over the past five years.

• Talk to other small business owners about their experiences with health plans and insurers.

• Before selecting a health plan, survey your employees to find out what coverage they consider particularly important.

• Take advantage of the tax benefits available to your company. Businesses can generally deduct 100 percent of the premiums they pay to qualifying health plans for their employees. Be sure to discuss this matter with your accountant or tax advisor.

• Understand COBRA and other federal regulations for small business employers offering health plans.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or