Survey: How COVID-19 is Transforming Small Business Health Insurance Needs

How has COVID-19 impacted the health of businesses, and how are businesses thinking about the health of their employees?

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Our partners at Oscar + Cigna surveyed more than 1,000 SBOs to find out how the pandemic has impacted the health of their businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the United States economy significantly, costing more than 23 million people their jobs at the height of the outbreak. There’s no question that businesses in this country — especially small businesses — will be forever changed as a result of the pandemic. In New York City alone, when the pandemic eventually subsides, about 1/3 of the city’s 240,000 small businesses may never reopen. (And those businesses have already shed 520,000 jobs.)

Clearly, more than ever, it is critical to meet the health insurance needs of small businesses nationwide. Cigna and Oscar have partnered to offer differentiated health solutions through the Cigna + Oscar small group health insurance product. Our goal is to provide health insurance that understands business decision makers, their employees, and their unique business needs over time.

Recently we conducted a survey of more than 1,000 small business owners across the U.S. to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the health of their businesses, and how they’re thinking about the health of their employees.

In part 1 of this analysis, we take a look at key trends in how the COVID-19 pandemic is transforming small business health insurance and employee health benefits.

Download this infographic of highlights from the survey, and continue reading below for detailed insights.

Editorial Image Cigna + Oscar Harris Poll 1 Infographic

Taking a closer look at COVID-19’s impact on the small business sector

We can’t truly understand the health insurance needs of small business decision makers and employees without first understanding how COVID-19 has impacted the financial health and operations of small businesses themselves.

Small businesses have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created poor economic conditions across the nation. The Cigna + Oscar survey found that 70% of small businesses have seen a decline in their revenue, and 52% have laid off or furloughed employees. Of respondents indicating layoffs or furloughs, 42% indicate that more than a quarter of their workforce has been affected.


Editorial Image Cigna + Oscar Harris Poll 1 Chart 1


Half of small business benefits decision makers have continued to offer at least some in-person services during this time (47%), with 20% continuing “with most employees working on-site/in-office” and 27% continuing to “offer some in-person services, with some employees working remotely and others working on-site/in-office.”

Meanwhile, 22% have transitioned to majority remote work, and 26% have transitioned to entirely remote work. Making up the 26% that have transitioned to entirely remote work are 15% of respondents who plan to fully return to the office in the future; 8% who plan a scaled back return; and 3% who are considering a permanent transition to remote work.

70% of small businesses have seen a decline in their revenue since the COVID-19 outbreak.

As businesses fight to stay open, changes to the workplace environment reflect growing concerns for employee health. 95% of respondents have made changes to their business as a result of COVID-19. The majority report having “implemented more frequent sanitizing” (65%), “moved more communications and meetings online” (62%), “restricted interactions with clients/customers” (59%), and “restricted interactions between employees” (51%) to keep employees as safe as possible. 37% also say they have changed their physical layout.

When asked how COVID-19 has impacted the importance of various elements of business management, some of the top answers given by benefits decision-makers at small businesses include operational and financial concerns: 84% indicated that “the financial health of their business” has become more important as a result of COVID-19, while 72% say that “new resources needed for operation,” and 67% say that “how and where their business operates” have become more important.

So what is the top priority for small businesses coming out of the pandemic?

Small businesses are prioritizing employee health and wellbeing

As a result of COVID-19, 88% of small business owners say that employee health and wellbeing is more important to them, according to our survey data.

Editorial Image Cigna + Oscar Harris Poll 1 Chart 2


While many small businesses have been hurt financially in 2020, one in 10 have hired new employees during the pandemic (10%), and a similar number report that revenue has grown as a result of COVID-19 (9%). More than half indicated that they anticipate rehiring over a quarter of laid off or furloughed employees (55%).

As small businesses reopen and rehire employees, managing expenses will be top of mind. When it comes to health insurance, small businesses will need a partner that understands and cares about the unique financial needs of both employers and employees.

Read the rest of the article on Cigna + Oscar’s blog.

Note: This article was originally published on Zenefits has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the reliability, quality, or accuracy, of this content.

Cigna + Oscar coverage is insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company.
CA: benefits administered by Oscar Health Administrators. Other states: benefits administered by Mulberry Management Corporation. Pharmacy benefits provided by Express Scripts, Inc. Cigna + Oscar health insurance contains exclusions and limitations. For complete details on product availability and coverage, please refer to your plan documents or contact a representative.

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