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New SBAM survey finds small business health insurance rates rise, employees being asked to share in cost hike burden

December 20, 2013

Fifty-eight percent of small business owners in a recent Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) survey said their company health insurance rates went up this year, compared to just four percent who said that their rates went down.

Nine percent reported no change in their rates, six percent didn’t know if their rates had changed and 23 percent said the question didn’t apply to them (presumably because they don’t carry health insurance.)

SBAM’s November 2013 Small Business Barometer survey of nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs found that only three percent of respondents said they took the step of actually eliminating coverage in the face of rate increases. But 19 percent considered dropping their group health plan. Twenty-nine percent increased deductibles and copay amounts and 27 percent increased the amount employees pay for their insurance plan.

“These results show that small employers are trying to find ways to continue offering health insurance coverage, even in the face of steadily increasing rates that are being driven in part by new fees and taxes mandated by the Affordable Care Act,” said Scott Lyon, senior vice president for the Small Business Association of Michigan. “SBAM has long said that the problem with health insurance is that it’s too expensive and that nothing in the Affordable Care Act is making it less expensive. Unfortunately, that prediction is becoming reality. Small employers are trying to cope by asking their workers to share in more of the cost burden.”

In other survey results, small business owners said that over the previous six months:

  • Twenty-six percent increased their number of employees (compared to 25 percent in June 2013.)
  • Forty-two percent said sales had increased (compared to 41 percent in June 2013.) 
  • Twenty-nine percent said profits had increased (unchanged from June 2013.)

Looking forward over the next six months:

  • Twenty-nine percent plan to hire more employees (compared to 30 percent in June 2013.)
  • Forty-eight said they expect sales to increase (compared to 50 percent in June 2013.) 
  • Thirty-six percent said they expect profits to increase (compared to 40 percent in October 2012.)

Small business owners also expressed a slight drop in positive sentiment about access to qualified personnel. Thirty-eight percent said access was “pretty good” compared to 45 percent in June 2013. Thirty-three percent said access was “only fair” compared to 29 percent in June 2013.

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