Step Up for Small Business!

Small businesses are the engine of Pennsylvania's economy – employing over half of our state's private-sector workers. But, rising costs, a lack of bargaining power, discriminatory pricing practices (like medical underwriting and higher rates for firms with more female workers) and a confusing and difficult-to-navigate web of private insurance plans have forced many small employers to drop coverage, hurting their ability to attract talented workers and undercutting their ability to grow.  

Health Care Costs a Major Challenge for Pennsylvania's Small Businesses:

A 2009 survey by the nonpartisan group Small Business Majority found that healthcare costs continue to be a major problem for small business owners. Their survey revealed that:

  • The number one concern for Pennsylvania small businesses around health care is controlling costs, followed by having insurance that covers everybody and ensuring high-quality standard benefits. 
  • 90% of small businesses want to eliminate preexisting condition rules, and 75% see these rules as a barrier to starting a business. 
  • 87% of Pennsylvania small businesses not offering health insurance say they can’t afford to, while 71% of those who do offer it say they are really struggling to do so. 

Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act addresses these problems and takes important steps to put affordable, quality coverage back within reach of Pennsylvania's small businesses. It does this by:

  1. Ending insurance company discrimination and predatory pricing against women and people with health conditions.
  2. Making coverage more affordable for small business owners and their employees by offering new tax credits.
  3. Giving small businesses better choices and more bargaining power.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to establish a new Competitive Health Insurance Marketplace (an exchange) that will allow small businesses to purchase high-quality, affordable health coverage. This new marketplace will allow individuals and small businesses to leverage their buying power to drive down costs, and will finally make securing good coverage, at a good price, a reality for all the folks who are currently on the outside of our health care system looking in.

But, we have to get it right--and it’s up to our state legislators to do that. In the coming months, they will need to enact legislation establishing this new marketplace. They’ll get to decide whether or not it has the power to ensure the best quality options, prices and value for working families--or if it’ll just serve the insurance industry’s bottom line. It is crucial that advocates drive this process. 

Read Small Business Majority's recommendations for state health insurance marketplaces, and learn more about the benefits for all Pennsylvanians of this new marketplace.

Here's what you can do:

Contact your state senator and representive and tell them to Step Up for Small Business by making sure that our new health insurance marketplace is transparent and accountable to the people (not run by big insurance companies), easy-to-use and one that makes insurers adhere to quality standards so that folks have good, affordable choices. 

Organize a Briefing Brunch in your community where PHAN staff can talk with your friends, neighbors and fellow business owners about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and what Pennsylvania lawmakers need to do this year to get it right. Contact PHAN Organizer Erin Gill-Ninehouser at or by calling (412) 512-9225. 

Write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper calling on state lawmakers to establish a health insurance marketplace that works for working families and small business--not big insurance companies. Here are some ideas to get you started. Use our letters tool to submit your LTE today!