The U.S. Capitol | Michael Stacy/Missouri Business Alert

Small business owners worry about health care costs, disconnect with government: report



A poll of 100 small business owners in Missouri found that only 12% felt their government understands their needs and challenges a lot. Meanwhile, 58% of respondents felt their government understands their challenges a little or not at all.

The poll was conducted by a consulting firm on behalf of Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization. It asked a variety of questions pertaining to small businesses’ struggles and their government policy preferences, and Small Business Majority published a report detailing the results.

The report highlighted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as an example of misunderstanding between government and small businesses. The tax overhaul was promoted as a way to help small businesses, but only 37% of respondents to the poll said it had any positive impact on their business.

Of the 88 respondents to a question regarding why government officials don’t understand their needs, 42% said they were too influenced by special interests, while 32% said they primarily care about larger businesses.

Survey respondents said the most important external factors that could help their businesses grow are a robust market for their goods and services, as well as state and local governments that foster a strong regional economy. They indicated the largest barriers to their businesses’ growth are taxes and health care costs.

The survey asked the small business owners many questions about access to health care and government policies surrounding the issue. About half of respondents cited health care costs as a key barrier that could hurt their business.

The poll then asked about different health care policies the government could enact. The most favorable policy, with 83% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreeing, was to extend enrollment periods so more people could apply to insurance plans. The next most favorable, with 81% of respondents agreeing, was to make government subsidies that allow health care to be more affordable for people making under 400% the poverty level. The third-most popular suggestion was to create a reinsurance program, which would provide insurers with financial support so they have incentives to cover older and less healthy people.

The policy suggestions that drew the widest agreement among survey respondents were about controlling the prices of pharmaceuticals; at least 87% of respondents agreed to three different questions proposing measures to control the prices of prescription medication.

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