Small Businesses Make Big Decisions on Health Coverage

Small Businesses Make Big Decisions on Health Coverage

Employers can offer insurance coverage to employees or let them choose a plan individually.

Small business owners in Vermont face one of the toughest choices in determining what health care option to pursue. Any company in the state with fewer than 50 employees must choose whether to offer insurance to their employees or provide no coverage and allow them to shop for a plan on their own.


At Danforth Pewter in Middlebury, CEO Bram Kleppner says after looking carefully at the options over the past few months the decision was clear.


“It will be cheaper for the company by quite a bit to continue to offer insurance,” Kleppner said.


Kleppner says discontinuing coverage would actually cost more when you add in payroll taxes and state assessment fees.


In a show of good faith, the company even promised employees that they would increase salaries to help cover the cost of insurance, if they had to pay for it themselves.


Something not every employer is able to do.


“We wanted to make sure our employees had every possible support they would need,” Kleppner said.


Even though Danforth made the decision to continue health care options for its employees the people who work there will still have their choice of coverage and even the option to buy it on their own.


According to Vermont Health Connect about 53% of small business owners don't currently offer health insurance. If those employers opt out workers will have to choose a plan on their own.


Vermont Health Connect doesn't say which decision is best it advises businesses with lower to middle income employees might opt out of coverage. That would allow employees to earn federal tax credits toward the individual options.


Kleppner believes there's no wrong answer if small business owners do their research.


“For a small business you cannot make a disastrous choice. There's no disaster scenario here.”


Vermont Health Connect has set up an calculator to help employers determine what option is best for them. You visit the Small Employer Estimator here.

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