October 21, 2014

Small Business Owners: Healthier, But Less Likely to Be Insured

health insurance concept

A majority of small business owners (53 percent) believe that running a company improves their health, a recent Bank of America survey indicates. And those in business for themselves are in better shape than those who work for others, a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being survey reveals.

That’s good to hear because entrepreneurs are less likely than other employed people to have health insurance, and their jobs are more stressful.

According to a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a smaller fraction of small business owners (one-in-five) are obese than people in many other professions. Among the 14 occupations examined by the surveyors, only physicians are less likely than small business owners to be overweight.

Entrepreneurs are also less likely than other workers to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The Gallup survey shows that 12 percent of people in business for themselves had elevated cholesterol versus 18 percent for people who work for others. Fifteen percent of entrepreneurs have high blood pressure, the survey reveals, as compared to 18 percent overall.

On average, entrepreneurs have healthier habits. They are more likely to exercise and eat fruits and vegetables than other Americans, the Gallup-Healthways survey reports.

These healthy habits are important. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that people who work for themselves full-time log more hours than those who work for others full-time. They are also more likely than other workers to experience worry and stress, Gallup’s survey indicates.

Entrepreneurs’ relatively better health matters since they are less likely than other Americans to have health insurance. While this may change in the future (now that we have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in place), the Gallup survey shows that one quarter of those in business for themselves go without insurance, as compared to one tenth of other workers.

Insurance Concept Photo via Shutterstock

5 Comments ▼

Scott Shane


Scott Shane Scott Shane is A. Malachi Mixon III, Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of nine books, including Fool's Gold: The Truth Behind Angel Investing in America ; Illusions of Entrepreneurship: and The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By.

5 Reactions

  1. As a small biz owner, you gotta stay in shape, stay healthy – can’t afford sick time. I just received notice my personal policy is going up 25% due to Obamacare, up 49% in 1.5 years, what a joke.

  2. Entrepreneurs tend to be more self-motivated and disciplined in order to start a business, so it doesn’t surprise me to see this carry over into their diet/exercise habits.

  3. Because they are top of their own hierarchy, the levels of stress and pressure for small business owners are not the same with the employees. Employees are pressured by their salaries while bosses are pressured by their position because they are the business’s foundation. These entrepreneurs have experienced enough to develop habitual exercises to maintain their well-being so their health is least of their concern because the life of their business matters to them as much as their own.

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