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Health Care Affordability Most Important Issue To Small Businesses For New Administration

Although many business owners agree that providing benefits helps them retain good employees, the rising costs of health care may cause business owners to curtail the benefits offered to employees, according to a recent survey.

The survey of 400 small business owners and executives of firms that have fewer than 50 employees and pay for some portion of their employees’ health benefits was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted jointly by Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners.

Survey respondents indicated that risings costs will likely force them to cut some portion of health coverage for their employees within the next three to five years (36 percent), and that making health care more affordable is one of the most important goals for President-elect Obama and the new Congress (42 percent).

A majority of the small business owners surveyed believe a variety of approaches will help control costs and increase coverage, including small business tax credits (75 percent); government-sponsored pools (71 percent); medical liability reform (66 percent); ensuring portability of health plans (61 percent); expanding the use of health savings accounts (56 percent); and guaranteeing a choice of public and private health plans (54 percent).

While there are many ideas for the elements that would make up a health care reform package, a majority of the small business owners surveyed agreed on the need for reform in general, with 78 percent expressing support for a plan combining government-sponsored purchasing pools and tax credits, and 68 percent supporting a “market-based” approach with tax credits for portable, private insurance and a focus on the use of health savings accounts, among other proposals.

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