Millions of small businesses have not taken advantage of a tax credit under the federal health reform law to help provide health coverage to employees, according to a new study released by Families USA and the Small Business Majority, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Under the overhaul, the credit is available to businesses that employ fewer than 25 workers whose annual incomes average less than $50,000, provide coverage benefits and pay at least half of their employees' premiums.
The study -- conducted by the Lewin Group -- estimated that:
- 3.2 million small businesses met the criteria for the tax credit in tax year 2011; and
- 1.3 million met eligibility standards for the maximum credit of 35% of premium costs.
The White House estimates that just 360,000 businesses in 2011 claimed the tax credit.
The report also found that:
- The provision could provide credits of more than $15 billion (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 5/9);
- The credit would affect 19.3 million workers (Bristol, CQ HealthBeat, 5/9);
- The credit is worth an average of $800 per worker in eligible businesses;
- 5.8 million workers are in businesses that are eligible for the maximum credit; and
- The credit is worth an average of $1,066 per worker in businesses eligible for the maximum credit (Families USA/Small Business Majority report, 5/9).
Comments on Findings
According to Families USA, businesses' lack of knowledge about the policy has prevented them from taking advantage of a credit that could make health care more affordable ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 5/9).
John Arensmeyer -- founder and CEO of SBM -- noted that a recent survey found that 57% of businesses were unaware of the program (CQ HealthBeat, 5/9).
Critics of the program -- including the National Federation of Independent Business, the leading trade group for small businesses -- have said that the credit is not enough to make a significant dent in mounting health care costs ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 5/9).