NEW SURVEY: Small Businesses Overwhelmingly Support a Shift in Federal Healthcare Policy to Improve Access and Coverage Options for Employees

By at 30 June, 2021, 11:10 am

“72% agree that employers and employees, not government, should decide the type of health plans offered to workers.”

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Rising health care costs and limited options are hurting small businesses and their employees, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) revealed today. A new survey released by SBE Council finds that small business owners desire policies that support employers’ ability to offer more health insurance options – not government intervention that restricts options – to address issues with health insurance coverage.

The survey, conducted by Morning Consult, revealed that 72% of small business owners agree that employers and employees, not the government, should decide the type of health plans offered to workers.

According to the survey:

●  Rising health care costs are hurting small businesses and their employees. More than half (55%) of small business leaders cite high costs of health insurance as a barrier to offering health insurance benefits.

●  Small businesses seem challenged to find relevant health care benefit packages. Only 1 in 5 (17%) small business leaders strongly agree that the employer health care solutions available to them have kept up with the changing times.

“These survey results point to a Washington bureaucracy that is out of touch with the backbone of the U.S. economy – small businesses,” said SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan. “As the COVID-19 pandemic winds down and our economy ramps up for what should be a historic recovery, small businesses continue to struggle with a healthcare landscape that undermines their ability to choose health insurance plans that work for them. Additionally, unnecessary barriers in the form of costs and limited support remain in place, dragging down hiring power and hindering recovery and the revenue boost these companies are depending on.

“Small business owners want to get employees back to work and are prioritizing their health and safety. This means providing health insurance options that match the needs of their workforce. Unfortunately, the barriers to providing coverage have persisted for quite some time and continue to this day, as a large portion of the small business community reports the high cost of benefits, annual and unpredictable increases in health insurance costs, and limited buying power as hurdles that prevent them from maximizing health care offerings for employees.”

According to the survey, small business owners are highly dedicated to their employees’ health. When asked to identify the biggest benefits of offering health insurance benefits, the well-being of employees tops the list, followed by competitiveness issues:

●  58% say to maintain employee health and productivity

●  52% say to retain employees, and 51% say to attract employees

●  41% say to improve employee morale

●  Four in five small business owners agree that giving workers access to flexible and affordable options is business critical (79%) and that employers need diverse health insurance options to meet employee needs (81%).

Small businesses are united in their view that the private sector is best equipped to manage health care for their employees. The survey also revealed:

●  87% of small business owners favor requiring health insurance companies to be more transparent about what is covered and what patients will pay out of pocket.

●  87% also favor requiring hospitals to be more transparent about their costs so that patients can plan ahead and aren’t bankrupted by surprise bills.

● Similarly, more than three quarters favor tax credits and financial incentives, for both businesses and individuals, as opposed to the top-down, anti-free market price controls being negotiated in Congress now.

Small business owners are least supportive of allowing the federal government to determine the price of prescription drugs or which prescription drugs are covered in Medicare, among all of the potential policies for lawmakers to address healthcare costs.

Kerrigan added:

“Most businesses believe they would be more effective in managing the costs of employee health coverage if given more options that a nimble private market could provide. This is especially critical, as both the market and employee needs regularly evolve. Unfortunately, over-meddling by government has layered friction and inefficiencies throughout the healthcare system.

“Especially now as they work to recover from the COVID economy, small businesses need a shift in policy. Instead of mandates and more red tape, financial incentives and innovative choices are needed. Small business owners want transparency, flexibility, and innovation. But right now, Washington policies will yield just the opposite. If small businesses are to fully participate in the anticipated recovery boom, healthcare policy must free the private sector and put small businesses and their workers first.”

BRIEFING ON THE SURVEY: SBE Council is hosting a briefing “What Do Employers Want in Health Care” at 3:00 p.m. today (June 30) to discuss more findings and more details within the survey. For more information, or to register, click here.


Karen Kerrigan,
Raymond J. Keating,  

SBE Council is nonpartisan advocacy, research and education organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For 25 years, SBE Council has worked on and advanced a range of private sector and public policy initiatives to strengthen the ecosystem for strong startup activity and small business growth.

Visit for additional information. Twitter: @SBECouncil


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