Awareness of Health Reform Improves Among Small Businesses Owners, Majority Still Confused by Mandates -- eHealth Survey

Awareness of Health Reform Improves Among Small Businesses Owners, Majority 
Still Confused by Mandates -- eHealth Survey 
Small Business Owners Unaware of Exchanges and Misunderstand Mandates
and Tax Obligations Under the Affordable Care Act 
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 03/21/13 --  A new survey of
small business owners finds that a majority incorrectly believe
health care reform requires them to provide health insurance for
employees in 2014, or that they'll be taxed if they don't offer
health insurance next year. The survey of small business owners with
fewer than 50 employees was conducted by eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ:
EHTH), the parent company of eHealthInsurance.com, America's first
and largest private health insurance exchange. 
Survey responses were gathered online between February 12 and
February 15, 2013 from 259 small businesses that had purchased health
insurance through eHealthInsurance.com.  
eHealth conducted a similar survey in August of 2012, when the
looming Presidential election cast some doubt on the future of the
Affordable Care Act (ACA). At that time, survey results showed that
sixty-nine percent (69%) of small employers misunderstood the
employer mandate. This new survey shows that the number of small
employers who misunderstand the employer mandate has shrunk to a slim
majority of fifty-six percent (56%). Beginning next January, the ACA
does require businesses with the equivalent of 50 or more full-time
employees to offer their employees health insurance or pay additional
taxes. The ACA does not require this of businesses with fewer than 50
workers.  
Health Insurance Exchanges
 The survey reveals that only eighteen
percent (18%) of small employers believe they can confidently define
or explain what a health insurance exchange is. Nearly two-thirds
(62%) admit to not understanding exchanges at all, while twenty
percent (20%) say they have only a vague understanding of the role
exchanges are expected to play. Government-run exchanges, which are
slated to come online in October of 2013, would make subsidized
health insurance available for lower income people who don't get
health insurance from their employer, starting in 2014. The ACA also
calls for the creation of Business Health Options Program or "SHOP"
Exchanges for small
 businesses.  
Buying Insurance through Exchanges: The survey also reveals that the
overwhelming majority of small business owners do not want to be
forced to buy health insurance through any single source, whether
through a government exchange or through a private
marketplace/exchange like eHealthInsurance.com. Seventy-one percent
(71%) say they want the option to buy their health insurance coverage
from the source of their choice. Only twenty-four percent (24%) said
they would prefer to work exclusively with a private company to find
health insurance, and five percent (5%) say they would prefer to work
exclusively with a government exchange.  
Dropping Employer-Based Insurance
 The survey shows that employers
offer health insurance to employees, first and foremost, because they
feel morally obligated to do so. Forty-four percent (44%) cite this
moral obligation as the number one reason they offer health insurance
to employees. However, in 2014 that sense of obligation could go away
for some employers as access to individual insurance becomes
guaranteed, regardless of an applicant's medical history. In the
past, access to employer-based insurance was guaranteed but
applicants for individual coverage could be declined due to their
medical histories, in most states.  
Even with these new rules in place in 2014, two-thirds (67%) of small
business owners say they would not stop offering their employees
health insurance. According to the survey, only six percent (6%) say
they'll definitely stop offering health insurance to employees, while
another twenty-seven percent (27%) say they may stop offering health
insurance under certain circumstances. Ninety-one percent (91%) of
the small employers who are considering dropping insurance for
employees say that the cost of providing health insurance impacts
their decision.  
Would dropping insurance mean losing employees?: For nearly a third
of small employers (31%), the number one reason they offer health
insurance to attract talented workers. Seventy percent (70%) of small
employers believe it's at least possible their employees would look
for work elsewhere if they stopped providing health insurance.  
Health Insurance Expectations in 2014 
 Most employers believe
they'll need help understanding and securing health insurance next
year when the new rules kick in. Seventy percent (70%) expect their
choices to be complex enough to require outside assistance.  
Finding help amidst the changes: All of the employers in this survey
work with eHealthInsurance.com, a licensed health insurance
marketplace. When asked to list their motivations for working with a
licensed agent or broker, they say they wanted to know all of their
options (82%), find the best prices (81%) and find the highest
quality insurance for employees (68%).  
Employers admit to being confused by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
and say they're most likely to turn to their agent or broker when
they have questions. When small employers were asked to list the
information sources they trust the most, seventy-two percent (72%)
say they trust their health insurance agent or broker, thirty percent
(30%) say they would turn to a small business association or group,
twenty-eight percent (28%) would work directly with their insurance
company and twenty-four percent (24%) would choose to reach out to a
government agency for help.  
Expectations of health insurance costs in 2014: When asked to predict
what they think will happen to health insurance costs in 2014,
fifty-nine-percent (59%) of small employers say they expect costs to
go up. Only eleven percent (11%) say they think costs would go down
and twenty-one percent (21%) admit they don't know what will happen
to costs. Only eight percent (8%) do not expect the ACA to impact
costs at all.  
Hiring new employees and the Affordable Care Act: Among those
employers who correctly interpret the employer mandate, eighteen
percent (18%) say that the Affordable Care Act will have an impact on
their hiring plans for 2014. Among all employers surveyed, a third
(33%) say the ACA will have an impact on their plans to hire and grow
their business in 2014 and beyond.  
The online survey of small employers was conducted between February
12 and February 15, 2013, and gathered a total of 259 responses. Of
these, 95 percent had between 2 and 10 employees.  
eHealth's Small Business Survey report can be downloaded in full here
(http://news.ehealthinsurance.com/_gallery/get_file/?file_id=514a002dfc96aa27990
01afe&file_ext=.pdf)
or through the Research section of eHealth's Media Center located at
news.eHealthInsurance.com. 
eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) is the parent company of
eHealthInsurance, America's first and largest private health
insurance exchange where individuals, families and small businesses
can compare health insurance products from leading insurers side by
side and purchase and enroll in coverage online. eHealthInsurance
offers thousands of individual, family and small business health
plans underwritten by more than 180 of the nation's leading health
insurance companies. eHealthInsurance is licensed to sell health
insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For more
health insurance news and information, visit the eHealthInsura
nce
consumer blog: Get Smart - Get Covered. 
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For media inquiries, please contact: 
Nate Purpura
Director, Communications
eHealth, Inc.
(650)210-3115
nate.purpura@ehealth.com 
Sande Drew
eHealth, Inc.
(916) 207-7674
sande.drew@ehealth.com