"Many small businesses struggle just to provide any health benefits for their workers, and when it is offered, their workers on average pay more for family coverage and face higher deductibles than those working for big employers," says Kaiser Vice President Gary Claxton, co-author of the study and director of the foundation's marketplace research.
The Light and Life Free Methodist Church in Avon, Indiana, has a small staff eligible for a group health insurance plan: three full-time pastors and a preschool administrator, says Senior Pastor Chet Martin. Lining up health insurance for small churches is not a new issue for Martin, who previously worked as his denomination's conference superintendent. The conference provides a group health plan for about 40 families and a dozen individuals.
The conference also provides a Health Savings Account (HSA) plan for employees who opt to participate. "With this, we can set aside a part of our salary package—before taxes—to be used for medical costs," Martin says. "Out of our three full-time pastors, only two participate in the program, and each allocates funds into the account differently."