Small Businesses Share Experiences, Concerns about Health Care Costs

Everywhere we look, the Denver metro area is changing. It’s true for our transit systems, and it’s true for our health care. Just as businesses adapt to the new ways to get to work, they are adjusting to the new ways of accessing health care.

It is in this spirit that Delta Dental of Colorado conducted its second-annual Small Business Health Benefits Survey of more than 300 business owners and employee benefits professionals last fall. We want to understand how small businesses are faring in this new health care landscape and how we can best partner with them to support our mission to improve the oral health of all Coloradans.

Here’s what we found:

DElatSmall businesses are working to determine the best models and methods of health care delivery for their employees following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In the past year, one out of three small businesses changed health plans and/or insurance carriers. Among those changing carriers, half made the change to save money, and half made the change for other reasons, such as adding a health savings account.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest concerns center on increased cost. Forty-five percent of small businesses said the ACA has impacted their employee benefits at least a moderate amount, with 61 percent of those respondents citing increased cost as the biggest impact.

Interestingly, these concerns did not translate into businesses being less willing to offer their employees coverage. Nine out of 10 businesses reported their willingness to offer health insurance to employees at the same or greater levels following the implementation of the ACA.

We also know dental benefits matter. Nearly eight in 10 small businesses offer dental benefits and 94 percent of businesses with 50 to 100 employees do so. Of those who do offer dental benefits, 96 percent report they are “extremely” or “very” likely to continue to offer it. More than three-fourths of employers consider dental benefits “extremely” or “very” important to their overall benefits package, up slightly from 2014.

Employers in Colorado recognize that employee benefits are important, and the high incidence of ancillary products suggests these employers pride themselves on their benefit offerings. Pediatric dental benefits are required to be in health plans under the ACA as one of 10 essential benefits. Heath care advocates recognize the growing importance of dental health to overall health and that good dental services are critical from a young age.

As a dental insurance provider, the results demonstrating the importance of dental benefits among business owners and benefits administrators are of great interest to us. However, just as it’s important to understand the complete picture when looking at transit trends, it’s similarly important for us to know how small businesses are faring in the broader health care landscape.

For more information, including full results of our Small Business Health Benefits Survey, visit

Drop me a line and let me know your own experience:

Mark Thompson is the director of sales and client services for Delta Dental of Colorado

This was originally published in the Spring Issue of Business Altitude. Click here to read the full issue.