EMPLOYER COVERAGE: Fewer Small Firms Offer Health Benefits
"[F]ewer small businesses are offering health care and retirement benefits," the Wall Street Journal reports. A new survey by Dun & Bradstreet Corp. of 503 small businesses with fewer than 25 employees found that the percentage of smaller employers offering health coverage dropped from 46% in 1996 to 39% this year. The Journal notes that the figures "seem to defy conventional wisdom that employers are being forced to offer better perks to attract employees as the unemployment rate drops." Larry Winters, Dun & Bradstreet's assistant vice president for small-business services, speculated that larger businesses could be attracting "much of the full-time labor force, leaving behind a growing legion of independent contractors, temps and part-time employees who may not be demanding benefits." Respondents to the survey also cited rising health care costs, which were up an average 13% last year. In response to the higher costs, "40% shopped for a new carrier and one-third established medical savings accounts" (Ho, 6/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.