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Healthy Interest in Reform from Small Businesses

California’s small businesses are embracing the tenets of health care reform, according to John Arensmeyer, CEO of the Small Business Majority.

“The more people learn about it, particularly about the tax credits [offered by the Affordable Care Act], the more interested they are,” Arensmeyer said. “The real problem is that it’s a little unknown, so it’s important to get people to understand what’s in it.

According to a recent report by Bernstein Research in New York, more small-business employers — those with three to nine workers — are offering health insurance this year. Nationally, the number of small businesses offering insurance increased by 13 percentage points in a year, from 46% to 59%.

“The tax credits take place immediately,” Arensmeyer said. “This tax year. So employers have looked at, they’ve done the math and it’s swaying some decisions.”

Among the small business owners he works with in California, Arensmeyer said, many of them have a preconceived notion that health care reform is messy, or dangerous or could hurt their businesses. Ironically, he said, when his organization has surveyed business owners to find out what they’d like most in health care options, they name many of the elements of reform.

“There is overwhelming support for the various components of the law. The problem has been that they’ve been getting a message that this is somehow bad for you,” Arensmeyer said.

“But when they become more familiar with it and understand what’s in it, they’re much more favorably disposed,” he said. “They get much more interested in how they can benefit.”

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