More Employers to Offer Health Care, Reports Find

Despite confusion and mixed emotions in the small business community regarding health-care reform, more mom and pops are expected to offer health care coverage to their employees under the Affordable Care Act, according to a survey.

A study from the Urban Institute, "The Effects of Health Reform on Small Businesses and Their Workers," finds that tax incentives will drive smaller firms to begin offering coverage to their employees. Large companies, which have been more likely to provide insurance for workers, are expected to continue offering coverage. The study was sponsored by the non-partisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"We find generally positive effects of the ACA on small firms," the report said. "Employers with fewer than 50 workers will experience substantial savings on health costs; employers with 50 to 100 workers will see a very small cost increase."

The smallest firms are expected to see an increase in offer rates under the act, while offer rates for those with 25 or more employees will remain stable, the report said.

Workers at small firms, and their families, are going to "reap substantial benefits from Medicaid expansion, individual health insurance exchanges and premium subsidies to low-income families," UI said. This should lead to reduced rates of un-insurance for this particular group.

A second study released Tuesday, "State-Level Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: A State-By-State Analysis," reported that although today fewer Americans are getting insurance coverage through their employer, the reform act will help to bring these numbers back up.

The report, also sponsored by the RWJ Foundation and by the State Health Access Data Center at the University of Minnesota, found that 7.3 fewer Americans were covered through their employer in 2009 than in 2000. Nearly 69% of non-elderly Americans got coverage from their employers in 2000 but in 2009, that number was 61%.

"ESI will continue to be a major source of health insurance even after 2014, when major provisions of the Affordable Care Act that expand Medicaid and provide subsidies for the purchase of private coverage through health insurance exchanges are fully implemented," the report said.