Survey finds Tenn. small businesses concerned about health care, want voice in debate
While only half of Tennessee small businesses offer health insurance to their employees, nearly all agree it is time to pay attention to health care reform and want to be involved in the debate, a new survey indicates.
Craig Anne Heflinger
Craig Anne Heflinger
The survey was conducted by Craig Anne Heflinger, professor of human and organizational development in Peabody College; Marielle Lovecchio, professional student in the Peabody community development and action program; Jill Robinson, graduate student in the Peabody community research and action program; and Lori Smith, Tennessee Small Business Coalition.
“Small business owners report that their businesses are struggling with health care costs, they anticipate even more challenges in this area in the future, and that health care reform is a way to get the economy back on track,” the authors wrote in the survey report.
The full report is available at: http://tinyurl.com/mhbun7.
A majority of those surveyed agreed that all Americans should have access to quality health care coverage and should not lose that coverage due to illness, age or changing jobs, but less than half (44 percent) agreed businesses have a responsibility to offer health coverage to employees. On that question, responses differed depending on whether or not the business currently offered coverage. Fifty-three percent of those currently providing coverage believed a business had a responsibility to do so, compared to 32 percent of those that do not.
Choice between public and private plans was favored by a majority of respondents. Many reported fears that a single public plan would result in lower quality of care and higher costs. In addition, a majority of respondents expressed concerns about private insurance companies and wanted more federal oversight of them.
Other key findings include:
• 81 percent of respondents believed Congress did not pay attention to small business owners
• 61 percent believed health care reform will “help our economy get back on track”
• 81 percent believed “all Americans must have access to affordable, quality health care coverage”
• 93 percent said businesses need quality health plans with predictable costs
• 74 percent said insurers, business, individuals and the government must share responsibility to make affordable health care coverage widely available
The authors mailed surveys to 3,000 businesses in Tennessee that employ 50 or fewer employees in March 2009, with 245 responding within 60 days. The businesses were randomly selected from the Dun and Bradstreet “Million Dollar Database.” The respondents represented Tennessee’s three grand divisions, with slightly more than half located in urban areas and nearly half working in retail/wholesale, restaurant/food industry, construction and industrial/manufacturing businesses. Thirty-eight percent employed 10 or fewer employees.
The research was supported with funding and other resources by the Small Business Majority, “Consumer Voices for Coverage,” a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Community Catalyst, and the Center for Community Studies at Peabody College.
Contact: Vanderbilt News Service, (615) 322-NEWS