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Only Half of Workers in Small Businesses Are Offered Health Benefits

A new Commonwealth Fund study highlights a nearly decade-long trend of declining health insurance coverage and rising costs for workers in small businesses, particularly employees making less than $15 an hour. The report finds that in 2010 only 49 percent of workers in small businesses with fewer than 50 employees were offered and eligible for health insurance through their employer, down from 58 percent in 2003. In contrast, 90 percent of those working in firms with 100 or more employees were offered and eligible for coverage in both 2003 and 2010. 

Prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, workers in small firms also disproportionately struggled to pay medical bills, and many skipped needed care because of the cost. The health reform law should mitigate this trend, the researchers say, by improving the affordability and comprehensiveness of health insurance, both for small-business owners who want to offer health benefits and for those workers who can't get coverage through their jobs. Check out an infographic showing how health reform legislation will help small businesses and their employees.

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