Even though the health care reform bill isn’t for sure until after the Supreme Court hears arguments for and against it, there is still no reason not to be prepared, and at least understand how it works for small business. Apparently, many small businesses don’t understand what the law means for them.

eHealthInsurance.com conducted a survey of small business owners to gauge their understanding of health care reform, and what will be required of them under the new law. Here are some of the findings:

Many Small Business Still Don’t Understand the Health Care Law

Starting in 2014 (assuming the health care reform bill isn’t struck down), small business with more than 50 employees will be required to provide a health care plan. However, many businesses don’t understand this, and many aren’t making plans for changes. Only 22% of small business owners think that they are knowledgeable about health insurance exchanges.

This is too bad, since health insurance exchanges could actually benefit small businesses trying to provide health care plans to their employees. One of the options, points out eHealthInsurance.com, is to use private exchanges and set up health plans similar to defined benefit plans:

More small business owners will look into joining “private exchanges,” or marketplaces where employees could pick from an “a’ la’ carte” menu of plans using a fixed cash benefit, or “defined contribution,” offered by the employer.

On top of that, the health care reform bill allows for rebates to some small businesses. These rebates can help offset the costs of providing health insurance. (Don’t forget that there have always been tax benefits associated with providing health insurance benefits.)

If you own a small business, it’s worth it to check into the health care reform law, and understand some of the changes that you might be subject to starting in 2014. You want to be informed. And, even if the law is struck down, there might be a version of it providing you with similar options if you choose (rather than having it as a mandate). Just because the law is struck down doesn’t meant that health insurance exchanges can’t be used in the future. It’s worth it to learn a little bit abut this option now.

Small Businesses Likely to Provide Health Benefits to Employees

Another interesting find from the survey is that many small businesses feel like they should offer health benefits to employees. The survey found that 60% of small business owners with fewer than 50 employees are willing to continue to offer health insurance benefits — even though they don’t have to under the new law. 44% of small business owners feel that providing health coverage is a moral obligation.

Another reason to provide benefits, though, is due to the fact that it’s easier to attract and retain quality people when you offer perks and benefits. Someone might be willing to accept a little less pay if there are quality benefits involved. This is worth considering as you determine your course of action regarding health benefits for your valued employees.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.