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More Small Employers Are Not Offering Health Care Coverage

A new survey shows small employers are abandoning employee health care insurance. What are the implications?

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More Small Employers Are Not Offering Health Care Coverage

A health care research center based in Michigan conducted a state-wide survey, examining employer-sponsored health care coverage.

The survey found that fewer small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees) are offering health insurance to their employees, dropping from 40 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in 2014.

The trend is mirrored in medium-sized employers (50-99 employees), with a drop from 93 percent offering health coverage in 2013 to 84 percent in 2014.

The survey also shows that the cost of health care for small businesses in Michigan increased by 2.8 percent from 2009 to 2014. This rise in health care costs is also seen across the country, although at a higher rate. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that premium costs for health care have increased 4.2 percent nationally.

To determine the best financial solution, business owners in the state are weighing the options of paying the IRS penalty for not offering insurance, utilizing lower-cost policies or health reimbursement accounts, or covering only some of their employees. Jay Greene "Survey notes drop in small businesses offering health insurance," (Feb. 14, 2016).


Although the above survey only represents Michigan, figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation show a similar national trend. From 2013 to 2014, the percentage of all firms offering health benefits went from 57 percent to 55 percent. Organizations with fewer than 50 employees showed a decrease from 55 percent to 52 percent.

Although avoiding the cost is the primary reason employers are abandoning employee health care coverage, it may decrease an employer’s competitiveness in the job market.

A 2012 survey by global employment specialist, Monster, found that health care plans were among the top most valued benefits. In fact, survey participants reported health care plans to have the most influence on their decision to accept a job, with an average importance of 32 percent.

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