Women Business Enterprises Call for Healthcare Solution that Works for Businesses of All Sizes

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To keep small business employers competitive and protect entrepreneurship, we must make it easier and more affordable for the millions of small businesses operating in our communities to have and provide health coverage.


The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) and Smart Policy Works released today a survey exploring the need for healthcare reform that works for businesses of all sizes in 2018.

The survey, which received consultative input from national, non-profit small business advocacy organization Small Business Majority, was conducted with the WBDC’s network of certified women business owners from its nine-state region, including responses from businesses with operations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota. The survey was intended to give a voice to these employers’ and gauge their perspectives on the ongoing healthcare debate.

“The findings are clear – women business owners view offering affordable, quality health insurance to their employees as a top priority,” said Emilia DiMenco, President and Chief Executive Officer at the WBDC. “To keep small business employers competitive and protect entrepreneurship, we must make it easier and more affordable for the millions of small businesses operating in our communities to have and provide health coverage.”

Survey findings of note include:

  • 87% of respondents want to offer health insurance coverage to their employees;
  • 96% of respondents say it is important to them that their employees have access to affordable coverage, regardless if that coverage is offered as a group health benefit or purchased elsewhere;
  • 83% of respondents say it is extremely important for recruiting and retaining employees;
  • 96% of respondents say access to a variety of health plan choices is important;
  • 100% of respondents believe offering coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is important, with 67% of respondents indicating it is “Extremely Important;” and,
  • 85% of respondents who launched their own business (43% of all surveyed) said access to health coverage was important to their decision to start their business.

Beyond simply the desire to offer coverage, the majority of survey respondents also reported an interest in continuing certain protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including essential health benefits (75%) and those for individuals with pre-existing conditions (86%).

According to Small Business Majority, which served as an advisor on this project, this is especially important to note at this time during open enrollment. Small business owners are roughly three times more likely to enroll through the health insurance marketplaces created under the ACA, per the U.S. Department of Treasury.

“Small businesses generate two out of three new jobs in the United States and contribute to the strength of our economy,” said Geraldine Sanchez Aglipay, Outreach Manager of the Midwest Region and Greater Chicago for Small Business Majority. “That’s why it is so important that we take into account their opinions on policies that can preserve and improve upon the healthcare law and help their businesses. There is so much at stake for small businesses – and our overall economic health as a nation – if we ignore this incredibly valuable population.”

Small Business Majority supplemented the survey findings with interviews with self-selected survey respondents who agreed to follow up calls. The individuals selected for the informant interviews volunteered to be contacted in the online survey and provided additional context to their responses and feedback on potential reforms.

This is the second survey produced by the Women’s Business Development Center and Smart Policy Works, formerly Health and Disability Advocates. The previous survey was conducted in November – December 2016 with the same pool of participants. The new survey findings present several common themes, including a desire for greater cost protections and conscious decisions by lawmakers to address the growing uncertainty in the healthcare landscape.

“The survey underscores the support small business owners have for health insurance reforms started under the ACA,” said Barbara Otto, CEO of Smart Policy Works. “It is my hope legislators take the opinions of these business owners into account so we can get beyond politics and focus more on building policy solutions that work for businesses.”
The current Open Enrollment Period for the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace is from November 15 to December 15, 2017.

About the Survey
Building upon a previous healthcare survey by the WBDC and Smart Policy Works (formerly Health and Disability Advocates) in late 2016, the WBDC partnered again with Smart Policy Works to reengage its list of certified women business owners to gain their perspective on the ongoing conversation about healthcare reform. The new survey, titled “What Small Business Owners Want from Healthcare Reform,” received 127 unique responses in 8 Midwestern states (Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota), predominately concentrated in the urban centers of Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul. There were 21 participants in the follow up informant interviews.
About the WBDC 
Since 1986, the Women’s Business Development Center’s mission has been to support and accelerate business development and growth, targeting women and servicing other underserved communities and veterans in order to strengthen their participation in and impact on the economy.

About Smart Policy Works
Since 1992, Smart Policy Works (formerly HDA) has been helping businesses and organizations respond to the rapidly changing health policy environment by providing strategic analysis, research & technical support, tools and training.

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