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Small businesses worried about health care costs

Earlier this year, I was highly privileged to be a keynote speaker for Tech Columbus, an organization that supports innovation and business growth in the Columbus, Ohio area.  While I was there, I met Pam Springer, the CEO of Manta, a directory company that provides information on thousands of companies, many of them small and inadequately covered by other directory sources.

As part of its role in supporting small businesses, Manta also periodically conducts surveys to identify key issues for them and potentially help find solutions.  This morning, I received the results of their recent survey on health care concerns.  Here is what they found, circulated in a recent press release:


Survey Reveals Rising Health Care Costs Likely to Drive Further Layoffs

COLUMBUS, Ohio – December 1, 2009 – As the battle over health care reform heats up in the U.S. Senate, small businesses say they are concerned or very concerned (77 percent) and will likely need to cut costs to maintain current benefit levels (68 percent), according to a recent survey Manta conducted of more than 490 small businesses nationwide.

With profiles of more than 63 million businesses and organizations, Manta is the Web’s largest source of information on small businesses. In Manta’s Pulse of Small Business user survey, almost half (44 percent) cited escalating costs as the most significant impact of health care reform. When asked how they felt about employers assuming the majority of these costs, nearly half (46 percent) answered that they saw this as unfair.

Of the respondents who indicated that they would need to cut costs, 45 percent said they planned to reduce their number of employees. Other ways small businesses plan to cut costs include cutting back on resources (20 percent) and researching alternative health care plans or providers (35 percent).

“Many small business owners have already cut back on resources, so as health care costs continue to increase, they are being forced to take more drastic measures and impose layoffs,” said Pamela Springer, Manta President and CEO. “While small businesses would love to provide a robust health care plan for their employees, they simply can’t afford it, and these results show that it’s likely there will be more layoffs from small business owners as we head into 2010.”

When asked if in five years companies will be able to offer the same level of benefits to employees as are currently offered, more than half of the small businesses surveyed (58 percent) responded no.

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