Last week I wrote about the difficulty of very small U.S. businesses (2 to 5 employees) getting health insurance.
According to U.S. Census figures, 15.2% of the U.S. population lacks health insurance coverage. That’s 43.6 million people.
And according to figures published by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), over 50% of the uninsured are employed by a small business.
Health insurance coverage for small businesses is a very different issue than for large businesses. As Medpundit points out, large businesses can self-insure and have ways to spread out the cost of coverage that small businesses do not. For instance, small businesses are subject to a variety of state laws and regulations which limit what they can do and where they can seek health insurance policies to cover employees. Medpundit goes on:
- “So, when you hear that a state requires all insurance companies to cover infertility treatments or acupuncture, it isn’t the deep pockets of Microsoft or the Ford Motor Company that’s paying for it. It’s the self-employed small businesses, and their employees who foot the bill. That’s why workers in small businesses nationwide pay on average seventeen percent more for health insurance than workers in large companies — if their employer can afford to offer it.”
What is the solution? There are several things that can be done to alleviate the pressures of health care coverage on small businesses. Among them, Medpundit favors federal legislation that will allow small businesses to purchase insurance cost-effectively across state lines through national trade and professional associations.
The NFIB also favors giving employees of small businesses the right to purchase individual coverage and have the cost of the premiums reimbursed up to a certain amount by the employer.