Health-care costs rank as the most critical issue concerning small business owners, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and Wells Fargo. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the 2004 survey listed health-care costs as "critical"—up 18 percent from a similar survey conducted in 2000, the NFIB says.
Since the vast majority of home building firms are small businesses (many family-owned), it seems a safe bet that home builders are being hit just as hard by increasing health-care costs, as the rest of the small business community. Other top concerns identified in the survey included liability insurance, workers' compensation, energy and electricity costs.
"The cost of health insurance is eating us to death," says Jack Feris, president and chief executive of NFIB. The association is supporting calls for federal legislation to allow small businesses to aggregate under an association—to get health benefits similar to those now achieved by large companies.
"Big business spends seven cents of every premium dollar on administrative costs, while small business pays 30 cents," Faris says. "There could be a 20 to 25 percent savings on premium costs simply by aggregating. We just want to level the playing field."