The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act will be written into the history books not only for the monumental positive impact it will have on small business and the economy, but also for changing the way Americans view health care. Nationwide market reforms and other provisions of the law are already benefiting small businesses and consumers alike, and in so doing, are reinventing what it means to purchase health care.
Prior to the reform law’s enactment, our health coverage market was unsustainable. But the moment President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, countless small businesses — from family-run farms in California’s Central Valley to Greenwich Village cafés just getting off the ground — began to see their hopes for more affordable health care become reality.
For decades, many small business owners who’ve wanted to offer health coverage to their employees simply haven’t been able to do so because of the price tag — a price tag that has been unpredictable in nearly every sense except for the guarantee that it will be higher than the year before.
By ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court preserved a number of life rafts small businesses are clinging to as they brave the tumultuous health coverage market. Components of the law such as rate review and the medical loss ratio (MLR) provision have already resulted in lower premium costs and cash back for small employers. Millions of small businesses in 42 states will get rebates for part of their coverage costs in August because their insurers failed to spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement as required by the MLR rule.
On top of that, the law’s health insurance tax credits for small business owners offering coverage to employees are helping hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs save money on their premium costs. With those savings, they are reinvesting in their businesses and even creating new jobs. At this point, the biggest hurdle for the tax credits is ensuring eligible small businesses are aware of them. Our recent opinion poll found more than half of all entrepreneurs do not know they exist, and another recent survey had similar results.
For those who wanted the law upheld, this was a decision for the history books. Not just for small businesses, but for Americans at large. Our economy depends on the mom-and-pop shops lining the Main Streets of America.
For future small businesses and the small companies of today, this means a lot. They’ve long been asking for a better health insurance market. Here it comes.
John Arensmeyer is founder and chief executive of Small Business Majority, a Sausalito, Calif.-based nonmember organization that advocates for business owners of firms with 100 and fewer employees on such public policy issues as health-care reform and clean energy.