The Agenda has now profiled three small businesses that are struggling in different ways with providing health insurance to employees. The companies are very different -- they trade in very different parts of the economy, and couldn't be located much further apart geographically -- but they do have one thing in common: Though all three have fewer than 25 employees, not one has qualified for the tax credit in the Affordable Care Act that was intended to help small businesses pay for health insurance. Indeed, the credit is one element of the controversial health law that has already fallen short of expectations.
Estimates of the number of businesses eligible to take the tax credit have ranged from 1.4 million to 4 million companies, but in May, the Government Accountability Office reported that only 170,300 firms actually claimed the credit in 2010. Of these, only a small fraction, 17 percent, were able to claim the whole credit.