By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
Most small business owners offer health benefits to workers because it gives them a strategic advantage in hiring, according to recent research from eHealth. The survey, Small Business Health Insurance: Costs, Trends and Insights 2018, includes responses from 184 employers with 30 or fewer employees, and found that 66 percent offered benefits to help them hire and retain the best employees. In addition, 43 percent of small employers said they feel a moral obligation to offer health benefits; 27 percent feel it encourages productivity; 26 percent believe employees could not afford coverage on their own; and 11 percent offer coverage for the tax benefits available to them.
Costs decrease. The survey found that the average per-person premium for small business health insurance plans decreased 2 percent between 2017 ($416) and 2018 ($409). In addition, average per-person premiums for 2018 represented only a 5 percent increase since 2015. However, the average individual deductible for small business plans increased 14 percent between 2017 ($2,754) and 2018 ($3,140).
Affordability. Despite the decrease in premiums, more than eight in 10 small employers are worried about affording coverage in the future. Forty-one percent are “very concerned” about their continued ability to offer health benefits and 42 percent are “somewhat concerned.” Seventeen percent say they are not concerned about their future ability to offer health coverage. eHealth noted that 63 percent said an increase of 15 percent or less in monthly premiums would make their current plan unaffordable.
Most small businesses also are worried about employees’ ability to afford the cost of coverage and care. Thirty-nine percent are “very concerned” about employees’ ability to afford premiums and deductibles, and 38 percent are “somewhat concerned.” Twenty-three percent are not concerned about employees’ ability to afford premiums and deductibles.
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