Small Businesses Look at Health Care Changes and Say ‘Duh!’

Frank Diamond

Clinician executives at health insurance plans can stop worrying about whether consumers are savvy enough to navigate the changing landscape of coverage and start worrying about how small businesses will fare under the Affordable Care Act. (Well, keep worrying about both because both will continue to be problems.)

Let’s just look at small businesses for now. Expect a learning curve, to say the least, according to a study by EHealth, the parent company of eHealthInsurance, a private health insurance exchange. (See:”Small Employer Health Insurance Survey” (link is external))

Only about 18 percent of the 259 small businesses that buy insurance through can confidently explain what a health insurance exchange is, while 62 percent say they don’t understand the concept at all. Another 20 percent have “only a vague understanding of the role that exchanges are expected to play.”

Government run exchanges will be launched in October.  Not far away.

Fifty-six percent of businesses with fewer than 50 employees think that they need to provide coverage to workers or be fined, but the fine applies only to businesses with more than 50 people working at least 30 hours a week.

“I think chaos is not too strong of a word to describe what’s going on in this market,” Robert Hurley, EHealth’s senior vice president for sales and operations, tells Bloomberg Businessweek, a publication that minces no words in its headline: “Small Employers Are Clueless About Obamacare.”

For health plans, it might be a matter of “So little time; so much education that needs to be done.” Or is that the government’s job? What do you think?

Frank Diamond is Managing Editor of Managed Care