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Chamber Study Finds Health Care Costs Top Concern for Women Business Leaders

Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 8:00pm

Chamber Study Finds Health Care Costs Top Concern for Women Business Leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce announced that women business owners list rising health care costs as a top concern for their companies and oppose government mandates as a solution to coverage, in a new study released today.

"The survey validates the Chamber's fight on health care issues," said U.S. Chamber vice president and counselor to the president, Reta J. Lewis, who also leads Access America, a Chamber initiative devoted to strengthening ties to minority- and women-owned businesses. "While we find women business leaders are compassionate, they are still focused on their bottom lines and oppose government takeovers of their health benefit programs."

The Chamber survey found that employers forecast premium increases between 18 and 20 percent for 2004, and they expect to absorb about two-thirds of the cost. When considering solutions, most of the respondents supported creating large group purchasing plans for small businesses and opposed requiring employers to pay into a public program that provides health benefits.

"We're listening to women and they're telling us the same thing other small businesses say – the cost of health care coverage is the biggest barrier to offering health coverage," continued Lewis. "The survey clearly shows that employers only want legislation that will help them expand and protect the health of their firms and their employees."

The Chamber study, "Women Business Leaders' Outlook on Healthcare 2003," involved over 300 women-owned businesses, predominantly those with fewer than 21 employees, and represents their outlook on health care issues for the upcoming year. The survey was unveiled at the Chamber's National Businesswomen's Health Care Summit in collaboration with the National Women's Business Council.

The Chamber advocates strengthening and expanding the current health care system through a number of initiatives including: tax incentives for individuals who buy their own health insurance including refundable tax credits for low-income people; pooled purchasing under ERISA for small businesses, the self-employed and other individuals; and expanded use of tax-favored health savings accounts.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size sector and region.

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