In a survey of 127 women-owned businesses in the Midwest, the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) and Smart Policy Works learned that affordable and accessible healthcare is a key consideration to starting and growing a small business.
We conducted the survey in late 2016 with the WBDC’s network of certified women business owners from the organization’s nine-state region, was intended to give a voice to these employers and gauge their perspectives on the ongoing healthcare debate.
Fully 85% of respondents who launched their own business (43% of all surveyed) said access to health coverage had been important to their decision to start their business. And 100% of all the respondents believe offering coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is important; 67% called it “extremely important.” As one respondent stated, “Right now, this is the single biggest issue for small businesses. We want to be able to provide plans, but as a small business, the cost, the research, and the time that it takes is enormous.”
These findings are significant, given that small businesses are the nation’s major job creator. The fact that ability to offer quality coverage plays a role in entrepreneurs’ decisions to launch or expand their business points up the role of health insurance as a driver in the economy.
“Small businesses generate two out of three new jobs in the United States and contribute to the strength of our economy,” said Geraldine Sanchez Aglipay, Outreach Manager of the Midwest Region and Greater Chicago for Small Business Majority. “That’s why it is so important that we take into account their opinions on policies that can preserve and improve upon the healthcare law and help their businesses. There is so much at stake for small businesses – and our overall economic health as a nation – if we ignore this incredibly valuable population.” Small Business Majority, a national nonprofit advocacy organization, served as an advisor on this project.
Small business owners are also roughly three times more likely than other workers to enroll through the ACA Marketplaces, the U.S. Treasury reported. Beyond simply the desire to offer coverage, the majority of survey respondents also reported an interest in continuing protections under the Affordable Care Act, including essential health benefits (75%) and access for individuals with pre-existing conditions (86%).
“The findings are clear – women business owners view offering affordable, quality health insurance to their employees as a top priority,” said Emilia DiMenco, President and Chief Executive Officer at the WBDC. “To keep small business employers competitive and protect entrepreneurship, we must make it easier and more affordable for the millions of small businesses operating in our communities to have and provide health coverage.”
Other survey findings of note:
- 87% of respondents want to offer health insurance coverage to their employees.
- 96% say it is important to them that their employees have access to affordable coverage, regardless if that coverage is offered a group health benefit or purchased elsewhere.
- 83% say it is extremely important for recruiting and retaining employees.
- 96% say access to a variety of health plans is important.
“The survey underscores the support small business owners have for health insurance reforms started under the ACA,” said Barbara Otto, CEO of Smart Policy Works. “It is my hope legislators take the opinions of these business owners into account so we can get beyond politics and focus more on building policy solutions that work for businesses.”
The survey included responses from businesses with operations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota. (See survey details.)
The Women’s Business Development Center is a Chicago-based nonprofit that works to support and accelerate business development and growth, targeting women and servicing other underserved communities and veterans in order to strengthen their participation in and impact on the economy.