Health Benefit Costs Remain Top Concern of Small Businesses, Nationwide Survey Finds
The cost of providing health insurance to employees remains small businesses' chief concern and is affecting a growing number of small firms, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business and Wells Fargo, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The survey has been conducted every four to five years since 1982, and this year, 4,603 small business owners responded. Since 1986, the cost of health care benefits has ranked as small businesses' top concern, but the percentage of businesses citing insurance costs as a concern has increased from 47% in 2000 to 66% this year. Bruce Phillips, NFIB's senior research fellow, said rising health care costs affect small businesses regardless of the type of business they own or where they are located. Premiums have been increasing 15% to 20% each year for the last five years to cover the costs of caring for an aging population and sophisticated new medical treatments, Phillips added. According to a study last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust, the average annual health insurance premium for single coverage cost $3,383 in 2003 -- an increase of $912 since 2000. Of the more than 43 million uninsured U.S. residents, 25 million either own businesses with fewer than 100 workers or are employees or dependents of such companies, the Mercury News reports (Johnson, San Jose Mercury News, 5/25).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.