Insurance Costs Cut Deep

May 14, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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LANSING — Newly released data from the Small Business Barometer Survey of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) indicates that the high cost of health insurance is hurting small business employment and even threatening the survival of many small businesses.

Thirteen percent of small business owners said that as a direct result of rising health care costs, employees would need to be laid off.

Twenty-three percent reported a reduction in wages or limited wage increases were necessary.

Seventy-eight percent agreed and said that rising health care costs are making it difficult for the company to maintain and expand employment.

“These latest survey findings are very alarming for the Michigan economy, because over half of the state’s private workforce is employed by small business owners,” said Rob Fowler, CEO-elect of SBAM.

“When we have many small business owners saying they’ve had to lay off workers or cut wages because of skyrocketing health insurance premiums, we’re talking about a tremendously damaging ripple effect throughout the state that impacts families and local communities.”

Thirty-nine percent of small business owners said rising health care costs were a threat to their ability to stay in business. Seventy-two percent noted that rising health care costs are making Michigan a more difficult place to do business.

“Innovation, risk-taking and job growth are generated by the men and women in this state who own their own small businesses,” said Fowler. “Small business owners take the risks because they hope to reap the rewards. But if the rewards are short-circuited by high health insurance costs, then we’ll see the risk-taking switched off as well.”

Fowler added that the survey results lend urgency to legislative efforts to enact small group health insurance market reform.

“Market reform is a good first step that will help moderate the increases and set the foundation where, combined with other reform measures, they will help reduce our health care cost problem.”           

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