As the country waits to hear from the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the self-employed are weighing in now on the impact the law is currently having on their businesses. According to a national survey released yesterday by the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), while most Americans may be expecting their health care costs to go down under the health care reform law, the self-employed, who are already facing an increase in costs, are bracing for even more.
Health care coverage is important to the 22 million self-employed Americans who comprise 78 percent of all small businesses in the U.S. While the largest percentage of the self-employed on record currently have health insurance, rising health costs are detrimental to families, businesses and the bottom line.
More than 80 percent of survey respondents feel that their small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to health insurance access. The uphill battle faced by small business owners shows little signs of abating by 2014, when the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is scheduled to kick in. At that point, the self-employed will be required to purchase both more expansive and more expensive coverage. Even if the health care reform law does indeed lower coverage costs, over 65 percent of self-employed and micro-business owners are unlikely or unsure if they will be able to provide and pay for a portion of health coverage for their employees in the future.
Another interesting trend among the self-employed: the more they know about the Affordable Care Act, the less they like it. Unlike most Americans, whose support of the law generally increases with more knowledge of the law's provisions, the self-employed and micro-business owners have to be cautious of the increased coverage -- and cost -- that comes with the law.
We already know, from a Government Accountability Office report, that utilization of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is sadly low. Many of the country's Main Street businesses do not even qualify for the credit because their business is deemed too small. As we've seen with so many policies from Congress and the administration, forgetting about the self-employed, whose businesses drive so much of our nation's economic growth, is a bad prescription for the American economy.