Small-Business Owners Still Confused About Health-Care Reform

BY March 21, 2013|

If you are still fretting about how Obamacare will affect your employees and your bottom line, you are not alone.
While a small percentage of business owners who offer health
insurance to employees have an improved understanding of what the
“employee mandate” means, a majority of small-business owners continue
to misunderstand the law, according to a survey released Thursday from
the Mountain View, Calif.-based private online health-insurance exchange

Of the 259 business owners surveyed, 56 percent
misunderstand the employee mandate, an improvement from the 69 percent
of survey respondents who misunderstood the mandate when eHealth
conducted a parallel survey in August.

The employee mandate is a section of the Affordable Care Act that
requires businesses with 50 or more full-time workers to provide
health-insurance coverage for their employees. If your business has more
than 50 employees and you do not provide health insurance, then you
will be required to pay an annual penalty starting at $2,000 per
employee after 30 employees, says Carrie McLean, the consumer health
insurance expert at eHealth. If you have fewer than 50 employees, the
health-insurance mandate does not apply to your business.
Another largely misunderstood component of Obamacare is the
health-insurance exchanges. Almost two-thirds of respondents say they
have no understanding at all of the exchanges. Twenty percent of
respondents say they have a fuzzy understanding of the exchanges and
only 18 percent of respondents say they can explain what an exchange is
with confidence.
Health-insurance exchanges are marketplaces where businesses and
individuals can shop and compare plans. The federal exchanges, which
will become available in October, will make government subsidized
health-insurance available for lower-income individuals who are not
getting coverage through their employer. Also, the SHOP exchange – an
acronym for Small-business Health Options Program exchange – will be an exchange where small-business owners can do the same thing, says McLean.

The confusion about Obamacare creates anxiety for entrepreneurs.
Almost six in ten respondents say they think their costs will increase
as a result of the looming reform and one third of owners expect the
reform to affect their hiring plans in 2014.

The survey was conducted online between Feb. 12 and Feb. 15, by
eHealth and polled small-business owners who had purchased
health-insurance through
and were still maintaining coverage for their employees. All
respondents had fewer than 50 employees and 95 percent had between two
and 10.
The survey results from eHealth likely reflect even less confusion
than what is out there among small-business owners overall, since it
surveys only those business owners who offer existing coverage and have
therefore put some thought into the topic already, says McLean. “We
actually compiled a list of calls that we were getting from customers —
small businesses — and it was composed of 70 different questions that
we are getting on a constant basis,” she says. “There is major confusion
out there in the marketplace.”