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Study: Health care costs No. 1 worry of small-business owners

Staff Report
Published Nov. 14, 2012

Controlling health care costs is the top human resources issue facing small businesses, according to a survey released by Aflac.

Aflac’s Workforces Report said 55% of small businesses find it challenging to provide robust benefits while staying within their budgets.

Paul Amos, president and COO of Aflac
Paul Amos, president and COO of Aflac
"We know that small-business owners juggle many responsibilities, including taking care of their employees — often with little or no human resources expertise,” said Paul S. Amos II, president and COO of the supplemental insurance company, which has operations in Columbia.

“The challenge comes down to company resources, including what's available to business owners to provide benefits and communicate with employees about their options and, how they can best use benefits to improve their health and well-being,” Amos said.

Aflac also cited an annual small-business owner survey by the National Federation of Independent Business that revealed the cost of health insurance remains small businesses' No. 1 problem, topping the list for 52% of business owners.

Voluntary insurance and wellness programs are two solutions that can enhance traditional benefits and help protect employees' health and financial well-being, while positively impacting a company's bottom line, the Columbus, Ga.-based company said.

The survey found 30% of small businesses see fewer workers' compensation claims after introducing voluntary insurance plans.

Wellness programs are offered by 36% of small businesses. Among all businesses with a wellness program, the study found 44% agree they are able to offer lower premiums.

A review of the return on investment for wellness programs shows, on average, a 28% reduction in sick days, a 26% reduction in health costs, and a 30% reduction in workers' compensation and disability management claims, the study said.

Aflac’s report, conducted by Research Now, involved an online survey of 1,900 benefits decision-makers and more than 6,100 U.S. workers.