Small businesses have long been at a disadvantage in the health insurance market, paying about 18% more on average than large firms for the same policies. In Illinois, they’ve also had to struggle with unpredictable and unreasonable premium increases. But in 2011, some 194,000 small businesses in Illinois were expected to become eligible for substantial tax credits through the Affordable Care Act, making it easier for them to provide employer-sponsored coverage; and starting in 2014, they could buy coverage through the ACA’s Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. Most small business owners, however, were unaware of how the ACA’s provisions applied to them, so we launched an educational campaign aimed at them.
We partnered with the Campaign for Better Healthcare and Small Business Majority to assemble information about the SHOP and tax credits for Illinois small businesses. As the Small Business Health Collaborative, we created fact sheets and case studies to help small business owners make smart choices for themselves, their company, and their employees. We worked with the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to bring these materials to the attention of small business owners.
The collaborative also joined with the Women’s Business Development Center to survey the health insurance needs and concerns of small businesses in five Midwestern states. They found that only 53% offered health insurance to employees, and more than half reported cost to be a barrier. Respondents overwhelmingly believed that affordable and accessible healthcare is a key consideration to starting and growing a small business.
The work of the Small Business Health Collaborative was supported by the Michael Reese Health Trust.
Visit the project site
- Small Business Majority presentation: “How Does Health Reform Help Small Employers?” (2011, explains small business tax credits)
- Illinois Health Matters post: “Supporting Chicago’s Entrepreneurs: Marketplace Brings New Health Coverage Options” (2014)
- Illinois Health Matters post: “Small Businesses in Illinois Lack Knowledge of What the ACA Has to Offer Them” (2014)
- Illinois Health Matters post: “Does Your Cab Driver Have Health Insurance? Why Not Ask…” (2014)
- Illinois Health Matters case study: “ABC Auto”
- Crain’s: “Here’s why Chicago small-business owners aren’t satisfied with the Affordable Care Act” (2014)
- WBDC/HDA press release on the survey results
- Crain’s: “Small business to Trump: Let us help revamp Obamacare” (2017)
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