NASE on Micro-Business

NASE on Health Insurance Mandates [Commentary]

Posted on: June 5, 2009

Since health care reform has risen to the top of the priority list for the Obama Administration and Congress, I spend a lot of my time trying to insert the self-employed perspective into this debate.  I will tell you that often this is not an easy task.  As of late I have been asked quite a bit about the National Association for the Self-Employed’s perspective on mandates. Congress has been batting around the idea of including in a health reform bill an employer mandate, requiring employers to provide and share in the cost of health insurance for their employees, and/or an individual mandate, requiring all individuals to purchase health coverage.  This idea received significant traction when major insurers announced they would support some key market reforms in exchange for the inclusion of an individual mandate.  This week, the fervor around mandates was kicked up a notch when President Obama indicated in an open letter to key Senators that he is amenable, with a few exemptions, to proposals for “shared responsibility — making every American responsible for having health insurance coverage, and asking that employers share in the cost.”

According to a June 2008 study by the NASE, only 18% of micro-business owners (10 or less employees) in our nation are currently providing health coverage to their employees.   Thus, the majority of the self-employed are purchasing health coverage in the individual market.  The biggest concern amongst the self-employed and micro-business is affordability of health coverage.   In addition, micro-business owners with employees also worry about the administrative burden of managing health care for their workers.  This segment of the business population believe that if reform proposals don’t include adequate cost containment measures or financial assistance such as health tax credits yet include a mandate requiring all to obtain coverage, they will be worse off than they are now.  And with the economy struggling as it is, forcing the self-employed to purchase coverage or provide coverage to their workers could mean the difference between staying in business or closing their doors.  Therefore, NASE members do not support mandating coverage at the present time.

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